Flyers Acquire Braun from Sharks
On Tuesday morning, the Flyers announced that they had acquired veteran defenseman Justin Braun from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Philadelphia's second-round pick (41st overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft and a 2020 third-round pick. The 32-year-old Braun has one season remaining on his contract, carrying a $3.8 million cap hit. He can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
For quite a few years, Braun was a steady, minutes-eating defenseman for the Sharks, often paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic. This past year, Braun played both with Vlasic and Brenden Dillon. The 2018-19 season was not among Braun's strongest seasons. However, he pulled down 20:18 of regular season ice time and 21:28 in the playoffs for a Sharks team that reached the Western Conference Final. For his career to date, he has dressed in 607 regular season games and 84 playoff games.
"We are excited to add Justin to our group of defensemen," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement. "He is a high character, quality defender who will bring a steadying presence to our team."
Braun has been a regular penalty killer and workhorse minutes eater in each of his last six seasons. This past season, he absorbed a 58.9 percent of his 5-on-5 shift starts in the defense zone, and started 61.8 percent in the D-zone the previous year. Ideally, he needs to be paired with more of a puck-moving partner to balance the pairing, but Braun has always been pretty reliable without the puck.
As of now, the Flyers defense pairings on opening night could look something like this, with three lefthanded/righthanded pairs:
Ivan Provorov - Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim - Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere/ Robert Hägg - Philippe Myers
Gostisbehere has been the subject of numerous trade rumors this season. It remains to be seen if he will be on the move (perhaps in exchange for a forward), or possibly Hägg could be the odd man out of the starting six if "Ghost" is not deal over the summer.
Braun Speaks to Philly Media
Shortly after the Flyers' announced the acquisition of Justin Braun from San Jose, the veteran spoke via conference call with the Philadelphia media. Below is a transcript, courtesy of the Flyers:
What is your reaction, finding out you will be joining the Philadelphia Flyers?
A little surprised. I’ve been with the Sharks for a long time. It’s the first time getting traded. A little shocking. Had to make some phone calls to the wife. Kind of got that and everything in order. At the same time, it’s exciting, something new, something different. This is a fun team, playing them and watching them over the years. It will be exciting to jump into that group.
Being out there, I don’t know if you’ve followed the Flyers and what they are doing this offseason. If you have, enlighten us. What was your conversation with Chuck Fletcher? What is your understanding what this team might look like come September?
It was a good conversation. Obviously, I saw the Niskanen trade. I know him. We have the same agent. I know JVR pretty well from him being out in Minnesota in the summers. He sent me a text. It’s nice to know a couple of guys and try to get to see them in the year. Talked a little bit about the goaltending and everything. You watch Carter Hart and he looks like the real deal. It’ll be exciting to play in front of him. That’s good stuff going forward.
What did JVR have to say to you in that text?
He said, "Welcome to the team. If you need anything, just let me know." Just short and sweet. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of questions. I’ll run into him a few times this summer and kind of get the low down, the run down on everything. Get to have a little idea about the boys a little bit.
Justin, how would you describe your playing style? You split the time between Dillon and Vlasic as your main partners last year. The Flyers haven’t had too many right-handers the last couple of years. How would describe what you bring to the table?
I always try to play defense first and then out. Good gap, break pucks out quick. Not afraid to going back for pucks and get there first. Take a hit every now and again. I think the boys in San Jose would laugh at me about that, going back and taking too many hits. You just got to do what you got to do to get the puck out. Last year was a bit of a down year offensively. I’m going to try and get that part back. Get some more shots through and create action on the net.
Justin, how much do you know about the Flyers’ young defense? They have a lot of young defense and it seems Chuck Fletcher wants to get some veterans around them. How much do you know about their young guys?
Between Ghost and Provorov, those are the two I probably know the most. Played against them the last two years. They’re dynamic. They create a lot. They’re jumping in the play a lot. You got to have those guys out there pushing the pace. You’re not going to get much offense if you’re just taking 3-on-3 rushes. You got to get that 4th guy on the rush. Hopefully I can help with that. Those guys seem to be elite at it. Hopefully that can keep up going forward.
Justin, was that something Chuck mentioned with you, your stabilizing force with those guys?
Yeah, a little bit. He said, "I don’t want you to be a mentor, I want you to be a player." That’s important. I’m there to play, not just take care of guys. But whatever I can teach them; what I learned from Jumbo, Pavs, and Burnsie over the years, how to be a good pro and what you need to do to day in and day out. Hopefully I can show them a little bit of that, but they go good leadership there. They’ve got Giroux. He’s been there forever and one of the best in the game. They got some good guys around, but [I'll do] anything I can try and help them do.
Plus/minus is such a strange figure. You’ve been a plus player most of your career, but last year you were minus-14. Was that one of those things where circumstances? Or did you think you had a down year?
I pride myself being a plus at the end of the year. This was a frustrating year, giving up that many goals and not creating as many when you’re out there. I would say it was a down year in that respect. You've just got to find what works and keep pushing forward. You can’t dwell on that. But it was tough, taking a lot of dashes when you’re a D-man. Kind of frustrating through the year. I’ve had good years where I’ve been plus pretty well. Just kind of lean back on those [experiences] and find that game again.
Quick Hits: June 18, 2019
1) The Draft 411 preview series on the Flyers website has been updated. Today's feature looks at the bumper crop of USNTDP players
eligible for the 2019 Draft. Yesterday's article looked at the depth and top ends of the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL Draft-eligible groups
. On Wednesday, we will discuss European-based prospects.
2) On his Twitter feed, Bob McKenzie had a small update on the status of the Flyers' negotiations with Kevin Hayes: