36-Year-Old Defenseman – Colorado Avalanche
Brad Stuart Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $7.2 million contract with the Avalanche in September of 2014.
Stuart has returned to Denver due to some back issues, Drew Spevak of ESPN Denver reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Brad Stuart.
Looking to add an additional veteran presence to their young D core, the Avalanche pulled the trigger on a deal with the Sharks in the offseason for Stuart in exchange for a pair of draft picks. What you see is what you get with the 35-year-old, which is a solid shut-down blueliner who slots comfortably on a second or third pairing. A former third-overall pick in 1998, Stuart never really developed the type of offensive game one would expect from a high draft selection, but itís probably safe to say that with the firepower in front of him in Denver, he should be in line for an uptick in production from the three goals and 11 points in 61 games he posted with the Sharks in 2013-14.
Stuart is the lynch pin of the San Jose defense. The 16-year veteran returned to San Jose last season, where his career began, and averaged over 20 minutes per game and blocked 89 shots. That's about all you're getting in terms of fantasy production from Stuart and the value of those stats is dependent on the format of your league.
Stuart will provide the Sharks with the defensive rudder they so desperately need. It's not that their blue line was awful last year; it's just that the heavy lifting of the penalty kill and the shadowing of the opposition's best took its toll on the Sharks' more offensive-minded defenders. Stuart will join forces with Marc-Edouard Vlasic as the team's dominant shutdown pair. He'll eat up ice time and give you 20 points, 150+ hits and 100+ blocked shots.
With a secure place in one of the Wings' top two defensive pairings, Stuart lacks the offensive upside you would expect from someone who could wind up skating alongside of Nicklas Lidstrom this season. His steady play in the defensive zone has been a nice constant for the Wings during his three-plus seasons in Detroit. Unfortunately, a 30-point ceiling won't provide much for fantasy owners as he doesn't contribute enough in plus/minus or penalty minutes for most league formats, but Stuart is an underrated player who racks up plenty of hits and blocks more than his share of shots in front of goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Stuart played better than his stats indicated last season, picking up 20 points (4 G, 16 A) and finishing with a minus-12 rating. On a club that struggled to score goals throughout Johan Franzen's absence, Stuart was often the Wings' most consistent blueliner. Steady and stay-at-home types don't always translate to the fantasy world, however. When he does see time on the power play, it's with the second unit and thus far in his tenure with Detroit, it really hasn't led to significant production.
Stuart hasn't shown much of an offensive prowess since being acquired from the Kings and subsequently signed to a four-year deal last summer. Frankly, he doesn't have to contribute at that end with Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and now Jonathan Ericsson providing scoring options from the back in Detroit. Stuart could improve upon last season's 15 points this season, but it's unlikely to be enough to merit consideration in most leagues since he's not much of an option for penalty minutes or a big boost in plus/minus (plus-3 in 75 career games with the Wings).
The Wings were pleased with Stuartís work on the blue line after acquiring him from Los Angeles prior to the trade deadline and he was rewarded with a four-year contract from general manager Ken Holland in July. Despite having a no-trade clause during the first two years of the deal, Stuart is a player to avoid at the draft table this season simply because heís the fourth offensive option on the teamís blue line. At some point down the road, his role in Detroit could become a more prominent one, perhaps with an opportunity to pair up with Brian Rafalski once Nicklas Lidstrom decides to retire. Until then, heís going to be relegated to the second power-play unit and play a little bit less than the typical second-pairing defenseman given how well Lidstrom gobbles up ice time each night. If he doesnít fall into the very late rounds, let another owner overpay for his services.
Stuart was part of the group of free agents that the Kings brought in including some new defensive blood. Stuart should bring in some moderate offensive numbers with the offensive-minded Kings.
Stuart long had all of the markings of an elite defender but his true stripes didn't emerge until last season. Shifted to the east coast, Stuart blossomed with a career season and appears poised to top that this year. He has size, good lateral mobility and good vision, and that first pass is always tape-to-tape. He'll reward you if you take him and he should be around longer than his extremely large (and somewhat overrated) defense-mate.
He's grown more and more confident on offense during his five years in the league, resulting in a career-best 39 points (and 19 power-play points) in the last NHL season. Stuart is never going to be in the Sergei Gonchar/Brian Leetch/Rob Blake class, but he's still young enough (25) to jump up a level or two of production, and head coach Ron Wilson will give him plenty of time with the first-unit power play guys. With a shot as heavy as Stuart's, there's no reason why he can't score 10-15 goals a year for the next few seasons.