San Jose’s gamble on Brent Burns might be worth it

Draft day always brings about a couple interesting trades but the Sharks made one of the biggest we’ve seen in a couple years by sending Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle (their first round pick last year) and their first round pick in this year’s draft which turned out to be center Zack Phillips to the Minnesota Wild for all-around defenseman Brent Burns who is coming off his best season as an NHL-er. I was a bit stunned when I saw that the Wild traded Burns because he was their best defenseman and I thought that GM Chuck Fletcher would try to work out an extension with him first. That said, the Wild have not been that good of a team the last couple of years and their prospect pool isn’t that impressive and neither is their scoring depth and Burns would fetch the biggest return out of anyone on their roster who could be traded. They did get quite a haul but I think the risk the Sharks took here will pay off because like the Caps, they are a team who needs to win now and this makes them a better team next year.

One of the Sharks biggest problems is that they have a severe lack of depth on the blue-line and it wasn’t going to get any better with Niclas Wallin leaving and Ian White and Kent Huskins being free agents. They needed another top-4 defenseman and preferably someone who can play in every situation, Burns gives them that. He is a very skilled puck-mover, has an excellent shot from the point and has some slick stick-handling skills as well. Sound familiar? Yes, he does have some similarities to Dan Boyle, but Burns’ defensive game is a lot more sound and having him on the Sharks will take a lot of pressure off #22 from playing a ton of minutes every night. Burns had an average ice-time of 25:06 per game with the Wild and I would expect that number to go down a little bit along with Boyle’s ice-time.

I shouldn’t even need to tell you that Burns is a significant upgrade over every Shark defenseman who played in a significant amount of games last year not named Dan Boyle. Burns plays more minutes than them, has a better offensive upside than them and was trusted with more defensive situations than them. He also has a history of outplaying his competition, which is very promising if you’re a Sharks fan and when you consider the two players he’s replacing (White, Wallin), you have to like what he adds to the Sharks. It should also be noted that not one Sharks defenseman aside from Boyle scored over 20 points last season so there was a need for offense from the blue line. Think of it as making an already dangerous powerplay even better. I just really like the make-up of their defense corps with the addition of Burns:

Boyle-Murray
Burns-Vlasic
Demers-Braun
Moore

Always felt that Vlasic and Murray were underrated but they were depended on a lot for San Jose during the playoffs as shutdown guys and they did all they could during then but I think they were worn out after playing so many minutes. Burns should help take some pressure off them as well since I expect him to have some time on the PK.

As for what the Sharks gave up in return, I think it was better that they traded Setoguchi instead of someone like Joe Pavelski. Seto is still young and a 30+ goal  scorer but I see Pavelski as being more valuable to the team and I think it was either one of those two who were going to be traded. It was a little odd that they opted to re-sign him one day before the trade, though. Coyle and Phillips are going to be very good players for Minnesota but I think it will be another year or two before either are in the NHL and the Sharks need to win now with guys like Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley in their 30’s so it’s better they do something that keeps them a better team for the next few years. All that is left for San Jose to do is acquire some forwards to rebuild their bottom-six and they will be a top team in the West again.

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