Analysis: San Jose Sharks Sign Brad Winchester to Professional Tryout

Editor’s Note. Hockey fans, be sure to check out further Shark Circle analysis on the SHARKS NOT RE-SIGNING KYLE WELLWOOD, and on WORRISOME POTENTIAL RULE-CHANGES FOR NEXT SEASON. Also if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first six parts of our series on the best signings of the offseason through a sharks lens. PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5, and PART 6. Now on to Brad Winchester.

According to Bob Mckenzie of TSN, the San Jose Sharks have signed free agent left-wing Brad Winchester to a professional tryout. Winchester is coming off a season where he scored 10 goals, 16 points, and was -18 with 114 PIMs for two teams.

Winchester will audition for the Sharks during training camp and preseason, and if he impresses the Sharks brass, he may earn himself a contract. Note that the Sharks have no contractual first-option here, so Winchester can still sign with another team. However, as he picked the Sharks out of a number of teams who were interested in bringing him to their training camps, it is likely he will also choose to sign with the Sharks if they decide to offer him a full-time contract.

As for what Winchester brings to the Sharks training camp, first and foremost, at 6’5″, 230 lbs, he is big. This has led to him playing the role of an enforcer in the past, but he can move slightly better than average for a big guy, and he has a 13 goal season in his past, so he is capable of doing a bit more than fighting. Certainly, you couldn’t go wrong with him playing a simple forechecking game on your fourth line.

With that said, if Doug Wilson is hoping Winchester will be a fit on the third line, he may be reaching a bit. This would not surprise me because Doug Wilson has shown a bias towards size in the past. Kyle Wellwood, an undersized forward, did just about everything you could hope for on the Sharks third line last season, yet Doug Wilson chose not to re-sign him. Why? We cannot know all the reasons, but there is one thing we do know from looking at Doug Wilson’s track record. More often than not, when deciding what to add to the team’s depth through trade or free agency, Doug Wilson has chosen size and/or grit over adding more complete, multi-dimensional players. And the results have been middling. Travis Moen, Kent Huskins, Jody Shelley, and Niclas Wallin come to mind. The concern I have about Brad Winchester is that he may turn out to be more of the same if the Sharks ask too much of him, which could happen as a result of the GM overvaluing him.

Will this happen? Will we see this trend continue further, with perhaps another Travis Moen added at the trade deadline, or has Doug Wilson changed his way of thinking? This offseason has certainly been more of the same in that Doug Wilson has continued to favor size, but to my eye, the results have been very different, and better, if only by accident. He hit the jackpot with Brent Burns because, even if it was simply Burns’ size that attracted Doug Wilson, it just so happens that Burns is also an elite skater and all-around offensive weapon. I believe Doug Wilson may have accidently stumbled on this extremely skilled defenseman because of his bias towards size, not because he’d learned to to get rid of it, but the result is the same: Burns is a Shark, and a dynamic one. Even Handzus, not a speedster, brings a lot more to the table than just his size. That’s why these two are great additions to the team. But that’s the question with Winchester, does he bring enough extra to the table for the third line in the way that Handzus does? I’m not so sure. I don’t believe he’d be a train wreck, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with him going up against Chris Higgins or Dave Bolland either.

Ultimately, I believe Winchester may be closer to the Travis Moen end of the spectrum when it comes to Doug Wilson size-acquisitions than he is to the Handzus end. For the fourth line, that’s not a bad thing at all, and if they use him as just a fourth liner, he could prove a decent addition to the team. But ask too much of him, and he will no longer be a positive influence on the team.

Further Reading.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of our series on the offseason’s best signings.
A look at potential new NHL rules for next season, with our analysis.
Analysis of the Winnipeg Jets signing of ex-Shark Kyle Wellwood.

Written by Shark Circle