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Meet the 2015-16 Sharks
Taking a look at the defense
10/5/15 - By Mike Lee -

The 2015-16 NHL Regular Season gets underway on Wednesday night when the Sharks travel to Southern California to take on their rivals, the Los Angeles Kings. As the San Jose tries to rebound from their worst season in over 10 years, we take a quick look at the players that will adorn the teal and black this season. Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson didn't dismantle his underperforming roster, but he did retool some of the lineup as the team tries to get back in the playoff hunt after getting bumped last season. San Jose looks to a blend of veterans, youngsters and new free agents.

We turn our attention to the blueline, where the Sharks will serve up a blend of young and old as they try to fix a defense that was constantly tested last season.

Defenseman

Justin Braun
2014-15 Club Games Goals Assists Points PIM
San Jose 70 1 22 23 48
Hard to believe it but this will be Braun's 7th season as a Shark. Not regarded as one of the Sharks top options on the blueline, Braun goes about his job in a yeoman's fashion. Don't expect him to light up the scoreboarrd, because his focus is on containing opposing players. Braun has 9 career goals in 287 career NHL games, although his 22 assists last year were a career high. The Sharks will look to Braun to help stabelize an erratic defense, especially on the penalty kill. Braun doesn't have the skating ability to get any time on the power play, but his big frame makes him a great option when the Sharks are short-handed.

Brent Burns
2014-15 Club Games Goals Assists Points PIM
San Jose 82 17 43 60 65
Todd McLellan or Doug Wilson's inconsistency in trying to figure out were Burns fit on the ice the last two seasons resulted in a confused hockey player that struggled. While Burns contributed on the offensive side of the puck, his defense paid the price. The burly defenseman was consistently beat by opposing offenses, and was exposed for his inability to cover faster skaters in open ice. Burns has a big shot that is a benefit on the power play, but where do the Sharks play him in even-up situations. Training camp would suggest that Burns will be rooted as a defenseman, but anything is possible.

Dylan DeMelo
2014-15 Club Games Goals Assists Points PIM
Worcester 65 5 17 22 32
After a couple of years of seasoning in Worcester, DeMelo got a chance to play his way on to the Sharks roster during the preseason. DeMelo seized the opportunity and looks as if he'll be on the opening night roster. The Sharks needed more consistency on the blueline from their younger ranks, so DeMelo will take Mirco Mueller's spot in the lineup as the young Swiss player tries to season his game with the Barracuda. DeMelo outplayed his teammate this preseason, and was especially impressive in games against the Ducks. DeMelo doesn't carry the same frame as Mueller, but is a better skater and has better vision when trying to move the puck up ice.

Brenden Dillon
2014-15 Club Games Goals Assists Points PIM
San Jose / Dallas 80 2 8 10 77
While the ink dries on Dillon's new contract, the Sharks get to see what Dillon can do in a full season. After acquiring the young blueliner last December for Jason Demers, Dillon proved he was worthy of the new deal and is poised to be a fixture on the blueline for a while. The 25 year-old B.C. native enters his 5th full season in the NHL and will play the role of stay at home defenseman, accenting the more free-wheeling style of players like Brent Burns. He also allows players like Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Matt Tennyson to open things up a bit more offensively.

Paul Martin
2014-15 Club Games Goals Assists Points PIM
Pittsburgh 74 3 17 20 20
The newly acquired defenseman starts his 12th season in the NHL, and was brought in to provide more stability on the blueline. The Sharks needed to upgrade from the skittish play on the back end last season, so the calming effect of a veteran defenseman is just what the doctor ordered. Martin isn't a big scoring type, but his job is to stop other teams from scoring. The biggest hole in Martin's game is the lack of speed in open ice. He was beat on several occasions during the preseason on breaks that required some acceleration as opposing players opened things up. Look for Martin to play in the top pairing to start the season, likely alongside Vlasic.

Matt Tennyson
2014-15 Club Games Goals Assists Points PIM
San Jose / Worcester 70 6 17 23 46
The Barracuda Express essentially means a trip down the hall when the Sharks need to send players for some development work in the AHL. Tennyson will likely be the guy that gets to split time between the big club and the minors. The Sharks haven't given up on Mueller and 2nd round draft pick Jeremy Roy is waiting in the wings. Tennyson will serve as the 7th defenseman so his fate will be dictated by how he performs early in the season and if any of the top 6 guys falter.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic
2014-15 Club Games Goals Assists Points PIM
San Jose 70 9 14 23 23
Vlasic sits firmly positioned as the Sharks top defender. The combination of his slick skating, consistent puck handling, and above average passing makes him the guy that the younger Shark defenders should be emulating their game around. Vlasic has an exceptional hockey IQ, and has a temperament perfect for the NHL grind. It was a mistake not giving the young blueliner a letter. He's established himself as a top flight defender that might be too mild mannered for the job, but if an assistant captain needs to lead by example, there is better option than Vlasic.

Check in tomorrow for a look at the Sharks goaltenders and coaching staff.





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