The San Jose Sharks have been rolling through their first two games, but they’ll welcome a familiar face back to the lineup tonight in Brad Stuart. The defenseman will make his regular-season debut against the New York Rangers, replacing Scott Hannan on the back end. The San Jose Mercury News broke the news earlier this morning, and are reporting that Stuart will play on a pairing with Jason Demers.
Coach Todd McLellan characterized the decision to bench Hannan as a tough one. As per the Mercury News:
We’ve had two games to really evaluate our team and we’ve played fairly well in both. There haven’t been glaring mistakes from our back end so it’s not easy to find an individual to take out of the lineup. But more important was getting Stuey going. We can’t go on without having him in.
Stuart also talked to the paper about getting his legs back under him against the Rangers tonight:
I was just making sure my legs were going and I was as close to game shape as you can be. That doesn’t happen overnight. I had to work on that. Once I got to a point where the coaching staff was comfortable and I felt good, then the decision could be made.
The Sharks have been solid in their own end so far, and adding a veteran of Stuart’s caliber will only improve the already-solid defensive depth present for the squad.