Tag: Justin Braun

Vancouver Canucks v San Jose Sharks

Looking to make the leap: Mirco Mueller


Like most things in San Jose last year, Mirco Mueller’s progression didn’t go exactly to plan.

Mueller, the 20-year-old blueliner San Jose took 18th overall in 2013, started out the year in the NHL as part of GM Doug Wilson’s “tomorrow team” movement, only to see his ice time dwindle by early December.

From there, he was loaned to Team Switzerland for the World Juniors and, upon returning, was shuffled back and forth between San Jose and the club’s AHL affiliate in Worcester, before a thumb injury in late March ended his year.

All told, Mueller appeared in just 39 games for the Sharks, three for Worcester and six for Switzerland — not a ton of hockey for a youngster that needs all the reps he can get.

Which begs the question — where will he get them this year?

On paper, Mueller appears to be part of the club’s six-man defensive unit, along with Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon and newly acquired Paul Martin. But the Swiss rearguard will have some pretty heady competition for that spot, particularly in the form of Matt Tennyson, who appeared in a career-high 27 games last year, and Dylan DeMelo,  a 22-year-old prospect who, according to AHL bench boss Roy Sommer, is ready to make the leap himself.

Speaking of the American League, it could end up being the place where Mueller starts this season.

There were worries San Jose rushed him to the NHL last year and it’s important to remember that, of all the d-men taken in the first round in ’13, only Seth Jones and Rasmus Ristolainen have emerged as regulars; some have argued that Nikita Zadorov, taken two spots ahead of Mueller, was also rushed to the NHL (and has since been traded to Colorado).

What’s more, the likes of Philly’s Samuel Morin (No. 11), Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey (No. 13) and the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock (No. 15) have yet to even make their big-league debuts.

Mueller knows that, based on his age and number of players looking to stick with the Sharks, this fall’s training camp will go a long way in deciding his fate.

And he knows the challenge will be difficult.

 “It’s always competitive,” he said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “A lot of jobs are on the line.”

Heading West: Paul Martin signs four-year, $19.4M deal in San Jose

Paul Martin

The San Jose Sharks have scored one of the biggest UFA defenseman prizes, inking former Pittsburgh blueliner Paul Martin to a four-year deal.

UPDATE: Per CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, it’s a $4.85 million average annual cap hit — $19.4 million total. It makes Martin the team’s second highest-paid defenseman, behind Brent Burns.

Martin, 34, has spent the last five seasons in Pittsburgh and further established his reputation as a solid, all-around veteran defenseman. After an injury-filled ’13-14 campaign he rebounded nicely last year, scoring 20 points in 74 games while averaging 22:47 per night — and in the playoffs, with the Penguins’ defense decimated by various ailments, Martin averaged a whopping 24:36.

In San Jose, he’ll add to a defense that already included Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon, who recently inked a five-year pact with an average annual cap hit of $3.27 million. On paper, it’s a good defensive unit with nice depth that should help with new head coach Peter DeBoer’s prediction of a “big bounce-back” season in San Jose.

Sharks agree to five-year deal with Brenden Dillon

Brenden Dillon

Agent Jarrett Bousquet has revealed that the San Jose Sharks have inked a five-year deal with his client, Brenden Dillon.

The financial terms of the deal weren’t immediately known, but he’s coming off of a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

Update: Dillon’s contract is worth roughly $15.9 million per CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz.

The 24-year-old defenseman had 10 points and 77 penalty minutes in 80 games with the Stars and Sharks in 2014-15. He also averaged 19:34 minutes per contest. He started the season with Dallas but was moved in November in exchange for Jason Demers and a 2016 third-round pick.

Although he was never drafted, Dillon signed an entry-level contract with Dallas in 2011 and became a regular with the team during the lockout shortened 2013 campaign, so he’s already a veteran of 209 contests.

Dillon is projected to join Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, and Mirco Mueller on the blueline next season, leaving the door open for the Sharks to acquire another defenseman via the trade or free agent market to round out their top-six.

Related: Report: San Jose interested in acquiring Bieksa

Roundup: Grabner, Braun activated from IR; Volchenkov put on

Michael Grabner

Some news and notes as we get closer to this evening’s puck drops…

Isles activate Michael Grabner

Grabner will draw in tonight — his first action since Feb. 7 — and, in a corresponding move, New York has placed Casey Cizikas on IR. Grabner will skate with Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome on the club’s second line; on defense, the Isles will insert Calvin de Haan at the expense of Lubomir Visnovsky, who sits.

Sharks activate Justin Braun

Braun will play for the first time since Jan. 19 when the Sharks take on the Preds in Nashville tonight. Braun, who’s missed the last 11 games with a left hand injury, will skate on a pairing with fellow blueliner Brenden Dillon, which is where he was skating before he came out of the lineup.

Nashville puts Anton Volchenkov on IR

The veteran Russian rearguard went on injured reserve today after speculation suggested he could be ready to rejoin the Preds lineup. Volchenkov, who last played in a win over Winnipeg a week ago, has appeared in 42 games for Nashville this year but could be hard pressed to get minutes in the future, especially with Cody Franson now on board and Ryan Ellis a week or two away from returning from injury.

Sharks might get Vlasic back Sunday

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Marc-Edouard Vlasic took part in Saturday’s practice and might be able to return on Sunday, per the San Jose Mercury News.

“Yesterday I made the decision to practice with the team today,” said Vlasic. “Today myself and the Sharks organization will make a decision what happens tomorrow.”

What has caused the 27-year-old defenseman to miss four straight games in the first place has been a mystery. Officially he’s out with an upper-body injury, but Vlasic initially said he had a cold. So it raised eyebrows when he was put on the injured reserve list shortly after he made that statement.

There was some speculation that he had a concussion, but Sharks coach Todd McLellan has denied it. The blueliner seemed to be wearing a neck protector during the skate.

His absence has come at a time when the Sharks have also been trying to get by without defenseman Justin Braun (hand). McLellan thinks Braun might be back in time for the Sharks’ outdoor game against Los Angeles on Feb. 21.