30-Year-Old Defenseman – San Jose Sharks
Justin Braun Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $19 million extension with the Sharks in September 2014, which runs through the end of the 2019-2020 season.
Braun posted four blocked shots in Friday's 6-1 loss against the Stars.
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Justin Braun: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
About to embark on his seventh NHL season, Braun rounds out a very strong top-four defense corps in San Jose that boasts fantasy superstar Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and veteran Paul Martin. The 29-year-old provided much of the same last year, as in 2014-15, finishing with an identical 23 points – albeit in 10 additional games – while skating to a plus-11 and racking up a modest 36 PIM and 114 shots on goal. He brings a little more to the table if your league counts blocked shots, as his 140 were the 34th most in the league and just five behind Burns for the team lead. That being said, it would be a stretch to suggest that there’s much fantasy value here outside of the very deepest of leagues and the occasional daily format (depending on his price), especially since he barely got a sniff of the power play last year with an average of just 0:43 per game.
In his fourth NHL season, Braun hit career-high numbers in goals (four), assists (13), plus/minus (plus-19) and shots (121). And it may be time to revise expectations for Braun up a tiny bit. Just bear in mind that he's a bit of a stay-at-home guy who gets limited power play exposure and sees a lot of time on the penalty kill. That limits his fantasy utility, but that doesn't mean he's without value. His plus/minus should remain solid and he could deliver 20-25 points.
Braun isn't going to put up big fantasy numbers, but he's become a solid stay-at-home defenseman for San Jose. Last season, he finished with 53 hits and 51 blocked shots in 41 games -- that's the best clip in both categories Braun has had over his three seasons in San Jose. His growing role on the San Jose blue line can be seen in his playing time as well. He averaged 18:48 last season, which is up 2:15 from the season before. Unfortunately, he won't help you with points, as he tallied only seven assists last season. That's just not his role. His value in fantasy is, at best, dependent on your league format and depth. And if that's not enough to scare you off him (we sure have tried, though), Braun had surgery on an injured hand during the offseason, though he’s projected to be available for the season opener.
Braun could be the odd-man out on the Sharks' blue line now that Brad Stuart is in town. It's not that he doesn't have talent; there's only so many minutes to go around. Braun has a great shot and moves the puck with ease. And his defensive game has improved immensely. But, with a top five of Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Stuart, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Douglas Murray, the remaining ice time will be thin at best. Braun will need to unseat Jason Demers for that sixth spot and that spot could end up being a revolving door all season long. But, if Braun does earn it out of camp, watch for the Sharks to give him a shot on the second power-play unit. His value would be much higher on another squad.
Braun made the jump to the NHL for 28 games in 2010-11. Following his callup from AHL Worcester last November, the American defender responded with seven points in his first 10 games, though he did slow down and finish with just four more the rest of the way. In all, he had 23 points (5 G, 18 A) in the minors and two goals and nine assists in the abbreviated NHL campaign. With more experience, the smooth-skating Braun should become a nice fantasy option for poolies involved in deep leagues as he possesses the offensive flair that is not always seen from a defenseman.
Braun is an esteemed prospect of the Sharks, one who could be ready to turn another page in his development track by going pro in 2010-11. This 23-year-old defenseman is best known for his job well done defending for the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in four seasons. At UMass-Amherst, he earned several distinctions including the Defensive Player of the Year award as a Senior. He's a fluid skater with a penchant for scoring, but Team Teal should let him polish his game with Worcester (AHL) in the coming season.