When Philadelphia Flyers management went into this past offseason, one of the top goals they wanted to accomplish was making sure they brought in some veteran leadership to help develop some of the younger talent. The emphasis on veteran leadership especially needed to be addressed with the defense, considering all of the young, up-and-coming talent on both the Flyers and with the American Hockey League-affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
General manager Chuck Fletcher wasted no time addressing this need, bringing in defenseman Matt Niskanen from the Washington Capitals, and also by adding Justin Braun into the mix as well. For those who do not know a lot about Braun, here is background information about the new first-year Flyer.
Becoming a Shark
Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota back in 1987. He received attention while he was playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), where he notched two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 69 games with the team.
He was then drafted in the seventh round by the San Jose Sharks in the 2007 NHL Draft and decided to continue crafting his game by committing to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
He suited up for the UMass Minutemen for four seasons, tallying up the following numbers:
- 2006-07: 4 goals and 10 assists for 14 points in 39 games
- 2007-08: 4 goals and 16 assists for 20 points in 36 games
- 2008-09: 7 goals and 16 assists for 23 points in 39 games
- 2009-10: 8 goals and 23 assists for 31 points in 36 games
Once Braun was done playing for the Minutemen, the Sharks brought him in and placed him on their AHL squad at the time, the Worcester Sharks.
In the 2010-11 season, Braun would finally get the nod to make his NHL debut. He then stayed on through another 27 games which got his feet wet for the league. His first professional season ended with an almost even split in games between San Jose and Worcester. Soon enough, Braun earned his permanent spot and provided significant support in helping the Sharks make the playoffs eight out of nine seasons.
While Braun did not get as much attention playing on a team with the likes of defensive teammates over the years such as Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns, and Erik Karlsson among others, he still received recognition for his contributions.
One of his main accomplishments was playing a significant role with San Jose during their trip to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the first Cup Final appearance for the Sharks in the franchise’s history. Braun would score two goals during that series, including a timely tying goal in Game 2. Unfortunately for him and the rest of the Sharks though, the Penguins were the ones to walk away with the Cup at the end of that series in six games.
After nine seasons in northern California, the day finally came where Braun had to say goodbye. It was announced back last June that the Sharks traded the 32-year-old to the Flyers in exchange for a 2019 second-round pick and a third-round pick in 2020. He left the Sharks having made a large impact both offensively and defensively to the organization. The following are his regular-season stats overall with the team:
- 2010-11: 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points in 28 games
- 2011-12: 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points in 66 games
- 2012-13: 7 assists in 41 games
- 2013-14: 4 goals and 13 assists for 17 points in 82 games
- 2014-15: 1 goal and 22 assists in 70 games
- 2015-16: 4 goals and 19 assists for 23 points in 80 games
- 2016-17: 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points in 81 games
- 2017-18: 5 goals and 28 assists for 33 points in 81 games
- 2018-19: 2 goals and 14 assists in 78 games
In total, he accumulated 154 points in 607 regular-season games. In the playoffs, he finished his Sharks tenure with three goals and 10 assists in 84 games.
Like with Niskanen, Braun was brought in by Flyers management as another veteran leader to help teach and shape the young core going into the future. While he has had his struggles so far during this season (five assists in 35 games and a minus-11 rating), he can still be a valuable voice in the locker room and show other teammates how to train and present themselves to others.
A lot of the Flyers’ defense right now are at the ages where they try and soak up as much knowledge and advice as they can get, wanting to make sure they do whatever they can in order to make it and stay on an NHL roster. Braun can help show the younger guys the right ways to play defensively, as well as be able to put up a fair share of points as well. Fletcher and Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault recognize what a guy like Braun can do both on and off the ice, and Braun is doing what he can to give back to his new home and organization.
Statement on Oskar Lindblom
On another note, I wanted to take this time to send my thoughts and prayers to forward Oskar Lindblom and his family and friends. Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancer that forms in bone or tissue.
Cancer is something that has affected everyone in one way or another, including in my own family. I want to wish Oskar the best of luck in his treatments and make it known that he is not alone in this fight. Together, we are all #OskarStrong!