San Jose Sharks Season Review: Justin Braun


Mar 3, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun (61) skates with the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Rogers Arena. The San Jose Sharks won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks appeared to have found a formidable defensive partnership for years to come as Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic combined to form San Jose’s top pairing in 2013-14. The expectation was that the two of them would continue their stellar play into the 2014-15 season, but it was a disappointing one from Braun’s perspective.

The steady and reliable Braun took a step backwards as he battled through an injury-plagued season. Braun bounced between partners on the back end as San Jose struggled to find a defensive identity. The partnership of Braun and Vlasic was broken up at times and the downturn in his play is part of the reason the Sharks ranked 24th in goal against last year.

Now, it wasn’t all bad for Braun last year. Braun posted a career-highs in points (23) and assists (22) and he still finished third on San Jose with a plus-eight rating. Braun has shown an ability to be able to generate offense from the back end, and he is continuing to trend positively in that direction.

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Where Braun fell short was in the defensive aspects of his game where he was so steady and reliable. After posting a career-best 54.1 Corsi For percentage in 2013-14, Braun’s Corsi For percentage dropped almost four percent to 50.8, meaning the opposition was controlling more of the game when Braun was on the ice.

Also, despite finishing third on the Sharks in plus/minus, his rating dropped 11 points as he was a plus-19 in 2013-14. Braun’s effectiveness throughout the season was likely hampered by injuries as he missed 12 games throughout the 2014-15 season after playing in every game the season before.

Braun missed almost a month of time after suffering an injury blocking a shot against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 19.

While the 2014-15 season was a step in the wrong direction for Braun, there is still tremendous upside and potential. For one, the Sharks should be much better defensively as general manager Doug Wilson added veteran Paul Martin in free agency, and Brent Burns should be more comfortable playing in his second season back on the blue line. In all likelihood, Braun and Vlasic should be paired together once again to start out with, and the expectation is for them to once again be counted upon as San Jose’s shutdown pair.

As Braun begins the first of a five-year, $19M contract that he signed in September of 2014, the Sharks will be counting upon Braun to regain his top form. His offensive game continues to improve, but San Jose will need a bounce back season if they want to contend for a playoff spot.

Look for big things from Braun in 2015-16 because he’s got all the tools to become an impact player for the Sharks next season.

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