NHL Free Agents 2012: Sharks Bolster Depth by Signing Defenseman Brad Stuart

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IJune 18, 2012

DETROIT - FEBRUARY 29:  Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the San Jose Sharks during their NHL game at Joe Louis Arena February 29, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan.(Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Free-agent defenseman Brad Stuart has signed a new contract with the San Jose Sharks in a move that will bolster the team's depth on defense for a better playoff run in the 2012-13 season.

Darren Dreger of TSN has the details.

Stuart agrees to 3 year contract with Sharks at $3.6 per. Takes less to sign with a team that's a good fit.

— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 18, 2012

When the Detroit Red Wings traded his negotiating rights to the Sharks on June 10, it would have been very surprising if a deal between Stuart and San Jose hadn't been made. He gets to play on a contender in the Western Conference and be closer to his family.

Stuart should be pretty familiar with the Sharks, considering he played against them multiple times in the playoffs over the last few years as a member of the Red Wings.

With San Jose already having veteran Dan Boyle and Brent Burns as their top defenseman, Stuart gives the team a third quality blueliner. He had 21 points and a plus-16 rating in 81 games for Detroit this past season in addition to his solid defensive performance.

The Sharks had to bolster their depth at this position in the offseason after they were beaten in five games in their first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.

This signing likely means that general manager Doug Wilson isn't going to blow up this team after repeated playoff failures. Stuart's $3.6 million salary cap hit has allowed the team to add a quality player but still have some room to add another veteran in free agency. They will also have some flexibility if they decide to make a trade during the offseason as well.

Signing Grade: A-