San Jose Sharks Midseason Report Card: Justin Braun

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A late-round steal from the 2007 Entry Draft, Justin Braun has developed into a talented two-way defenseman. He was an offensive force during his college career, and though his point totals haven’t been remarkable at the NHL level, his defensive play has improved by a huge margin. That’s likely due to being paired with rearguard Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who’s among the league’s top shutdown defensemen.

Braun began his career with the San Jose Sharks during the 2010-11 season, putting up 11 points in 28 games. Since then, he has cemented himself as a key fixture of the club’s defense core. Braun plays on a shutdown defense pairing with Vlasic, matching up against the opposition’s top forwards. The 27 year old routinely plays upwards of 22 minutes per game and logs heavy minutes on San Jose’s penalty kill. Braun’s mobility, positioning and stick-work have been a major asset and have helped the Sharks achieve the eighth-best penalty-killing percentage in the league.

In addition to providing terrific defensive play on a nightly basis, Braun has also stepped up on the offensive side of the puck. He’s potted a career-high three goals and eight assists for 14 points in 59 appearances this season. The Minnesota native has also fired 90 shots on net and has tallied a power play goal. These numbers certainly aren’t staggering, but they demonstrate a clear improvement in terms of offensive play.

Braun boasts the team’s second-best plus/minus rating with a +16, which leads all Sharks defensemen. He has also been San Jose’s most disciplined rearguard, having spent just 14 minutes in the penalty box this season. With speed, agility, poise, sound positioning, strong stick-work and a heavy shot, Braun really is the complete package. He’s tailor-made for today’s NHL and is starting to show it.

Braun’s play this season has earned him an “A” on his report card.

Sam Kelly is a San Jose Sharks columnist for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your Google network.

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