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Scott Hannan was clearly a better option for the San Jose Sharks in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs than Jason Demers. That could very well be the case in 2013-14, earning him playing time over the higher-paid youngster, even though an offensive threat is needed more than a defensive presence.
In any event, he will get some playing time. He was very solid and blocked shots well, and his experience will make him a secure choice on any given night.
Should the Sharks face a long-term injury, they may decide to call-up Matt Tennyson for his much-needed offensive skill. He is also in need of development and has a tough cap figure for sitting in the press box, but could start for many NHL teams.
This means San Jose has two reserves more than capable of stepping in. In the rare event of a need to go beyond the eighth player on the blue line, either Nick Petrecki, Rob Davison, Sena Acolatse or Taylor Doherty should be able to fill in without being a disaster.
This unit is led by one of the top dozen or so defensemen in Dan Boyle. He is not just the top scorer from the blue line over the last five years in the NHL, but has been top 50 in blocked shots for two years in a row. If he goes down, a genuine No. 1 candidate in Brent Burns can step in.
He is an elite defenseman backed up by two to three (if Burns moves back) great ones, two good ones and three more who are capable. Even behind there is adequate emergency talent.
Maybe the unit cannot be called elite, but that makes it the best of the rest.