For every NHL player that the media sensationalizes, there are always players who do a good job but do not get that same type of attention – whether they like it that way or not.With the 2015-2016 NHL Season in the books, this post will reflect on a specific player who made himself well known to the NHL.
This player is none other than Justin Braun. Many may be thinking, `who is Justin Braun?`. Well, first off, he is a defenseman in the NHL who has been within the San Jose Sharks system since they drafted him 201st overall in the 2007 draft. During that time, he had already played two years for the University of Massachusetts Amherst Minutemen, amassing 34 points in 75 games. Two years after that, still with the University of Massachussetts, his numbers increased – finishing with 54 points in 75 games for a total of 150 games played and 88 points. This increase in production was noticed by the Sharks organization, therefore having him start the following year with their AHL affiliate club at the time – the Worcester Sharks.
As the years passed, Justin made strides in many aspects of his game. After several instances of being called up, he finally got a full time starting job during the 2011-2012 NHL season where he played 66 games and put up 11 points (2G 9A) and was used during the Sharks playoff run that year, playing in their first and only five games.
Throughout this past season (2015-2016), Justin Braun seems to be paired up with the always reliable Marc-Édouard Vlasic, forming the second line of defence – behind Brent Burns and Paul Martin. With the progression of Braun`s career in the NHL, it seems he just continues to get better each and every season. Of course, playing with Vlasic can only benefit you and it seems Braun has learnt quite a bit from his experiences.
I can recall hearing that, after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks on October 4th 2013, Braun had not scored since February 21st 2012 which equates to a span of 85 games. Sure, he may not YET be known as an offensive threat but he is a defensive specialist – much like Vlasic. The two are paired up to handle the NHL`s most threatening players. The pairing act as `shut down` defensemen and have the reputation of playing a solid game with the occasional offensive touch.
Speaking of defensive specialist, he and Vlasic were given the daunting trask during last season’s Stanley Cup Final with shutting down the first line of the Pittsburgh Penguins that consists of Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary. This is a man, relatively unknown who is quiet and does an `exceptional job` to quote Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer, that had to vrise up to the challenge and handle those key players. The confidence his coach has in him and the support he receives from his teammates is unmatched and it propels him to a level even he may have not thought possible.
It will be interesting to see how he performs in this upcoming season and how the Sharks utilize his flexible game. With many strong players around him, it is only a matter of time before Justin Braun is labelled as a weapon on the blueline.
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