Anyone hoping to have Brad Staurt return to the Detroit Red Wings’ blue line next season saw those dreams die on Sunday, when the Wings shipped him to the San Jose Sharks for the rights to Andrew Murray and a conditional 2014 seventh-round daft pick.
Many may have been able to predict a trade of Stuart’s rights before the free agency market officially opened up on July 1. It was already announced Stuart wouldn’t be back in Detroit next season and the outside shot anyone thought of him returning was never really an option for the 32-year old defenseman. With his children and family on the West Coast, it became pretty clear he was looking to move closer to them to continue his career.
The move is a shrewd one for the Wings, as they are able to get a center in Murray, if they sign him, who has some NHL experience and a pick they can turn into another player. For most teams, the late round pick is just a throw in, as rarely does real talent emerge in the later rounds, but Detroit is an organization with a history of turning late round picks into somewhat productive players. Essentially, the Wings should be able to turn a free agent to be, into at least one player, maybe two, if the conditions net them the seventh round pick.
In five years of NHL experience split between the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets, Muarry has 220 games of professional experience. During that time, he has 24 career goals, 16 assists, a minus-seven rating and 218 hits. His career highs in games, goals and assists came in the 2008-2009 season, his second, with Columbus when he played in 67 games and scored eight goals with three assists.
Despite starting out the season with the Sharks last year, Murray was assigned to their minor league affiliate on February 7 and was not called back up the rest of the year. There is no doubt Murray is a bottom-six type forward, but based on the hit totals he has, it looks as if Murray could be good energy line player. The Red Wings lacked an agressive physical presence last year and he might be able to fill that void for them.
Stuart has been a familiar face along the blue line for the Red Wings the last few years. A trade deadline acquisition in 2008, Stuart helped solidify a defense to lead the Wings to their fourth Stanley Cup in the last two decades and continued to play at a high level for the next four years.
In just over four years with Detroit, Stuart played in 306 regular season contests for the Wings. While not a goal scoring threat, Stuart did have 16 goals over that span of time and 62 assists. He does not have flash numbers in the plus-minus category, but Stuart became a fixture alongside Niklas Kronwall on the second defensive pairing and the penalty kill unit.
Stuart will leave another hole in the defense, along with Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, for Detroit General Manager Ken Holland to fill. With a young defensemen coming through the ranks, he can either use some of his up and coming talent to fill the void, or acquire a player like Ryan Suter or Matt Carle in free agency.
**UPDATE (4:47 pm): Asnar Khan of MLive.com is reporting on his Twitter feed that the Red Wings have no plans to sign Murray and that the Sharks needed to unload a player.**