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The San Jose Sharks re-signed Justin Braun to a three-year, $3.75 million contract. Doug Wilson admitted the team had to make a stronger offer because they were getting calls about him.
There is good reason for that.
Braun had looked good briefly in 2010-11, when he had 11 points in 28 games. However, his defensive liabilities were frequently exposed, most notably in his one playoff game in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings.
Last season, he managed the same 11 points in 66 games. But one would be almost as hard-pressed to find defensive lapses from Braun as from the Sharks' top defenders, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Douglas Murray.
This is not to say Braun is an impact defensive player. He was fifth on the blue line in ice time because he was the team's fifth-best player—fifth in goals, assists and points per game, plus-minus, penalty minutes, giveaways, takeaways, blocked shots and assist-to-giveaway ratio. He was seventh in hits but first on the blue line in giveaway-to-takeaway ratio.
But a guy who plays his responsibilities and contributes in all areas of the game except hitting is already an asset. At 25 and with just 100 games under his belt, including the playoffs, Braun is capable of being a No. 3 or 4 defenceman somewhere.
There is every reason to expect him to be better than Murray or Jason Demers this next season, but he is not passing Vlasic or Brad Stuart. Thus, he will only manage the fifth-most ice time for the Sharks blue line, and see only a modest increase in his numbers: 79 GP, 4 G, 14 A, +7, 38 PIM, 63 hits, 98 blocked shots, 43 giveaways, 24 takeaways.