Brad Stuart’s luggage might be celebrating Christmas early. The word out of Detroit is that both Stuart and the Red Wings want him to be in Detroit for years to come.
Drafted by San Jose with the 3rd overall selection in 1998, Stuart was heralded as a potential Norris Trophy winner. With speed, size and good offensive skills some scouts even had him labeled as the next Chris Pronger.
As Jimmy Mann and Alexander Daigle can attest, not every ‘sure thing’ pans out the way some scouts envisioned.
To say that Stuart should be labeled as a bust would not be accurate. While he hasn’t exactly given Nick Lidstrom sleepless nights, worrying if his Norris Trophy winning days are over, the lofty expectations thrust upon him haven’t been reached a decade into his career.
After five relatively successful seasons in San Jose, Brad Stuart was packaged in a deal to Boston for all-star centerman, Joe Thornton. Over the next two-and-a-half seasons, Stuart would put on three more jerseys before finally landing in Detroit in a deadline deal.
Fitting in on the second defensive pairing with offensive spark-plug, Niklas Kronwall, he has settled in nicely with his new team and his role.
In the past, Stuart has been prone to making some questionable decisions in his own end. No longer burdened with the task of being an offensive cornerstone, Stuart looks more comfortable with keeping his game simple and picking his spots when to exude his offensive abilities.
"Players can come in here and don't have to do more than they feel comfortable doing," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "As their confidence grows, you hope they take their career forward."
Head coach, Mike Babcock, likes Stuart and thinks he’s a great fit. Holland would also like to have him back, but admits the only thing stopping Stuart from continuing his career in Motown is financial.
As for Stuart, it would seem that Detroit is also his first choice. "Obviously, I'd love to find a place where I can stay for awhile," Stuart said. "This is a pretty good situation. ... I'd like to see how it plays out, but I'd like to explore the possibility of staying here. When the time comes, I'm definitely hoping to be here."
That’s good news for Wings fans and bad news for Samsonite dealers.