Moving Burns back to D to replace Boyle makes sense

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Brent Burns is going back to where he started and it’s not all bad for the San Jose Sharks.

Last season, Burns was a stud playing on the wing with Joe Thornton. He had a career-highs in goals with 22 and in points with 48. The defenseman-converted-to-forward looked like he found a new life playing up front instead of on the blue line.

Here’s to hoping he didn’t get too comfortable because now he’s headed back to rearguard after the Sharks parted ways with Dan Boyle. At 38 years old, Boyle signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers and left an opening on the Sharks defense for a guy who can move the puck and score points.

With free agency loaded with guys who were either going to get paid a ton or not be as effective, Sharks GM Doug Wilson felt the best move was to have Burns return to defense after having been a force at forward. For those thinking it’s a mistake to do that, think back to what he did before he changed positions.

In Burns’ final year with the Minnesota Wild and his first season with the Sharks, he was an offensive dynamo from the back end. With the Wild, he scored 17 goals and had 46 points in 2010-11. The following season with the Sharks, he had 11 goals and 36 points playing second-banana to Boyle offensively on defense.

Boyle’s time in San Jose saw him pile up 269 points in 431 games on defense – an average of 0.62 points per game. Burns’ numbers? In 540 games in Minnesota and San Jose on defense, he had 66 goals with 220 points – a 0.41 points per-game average.

That sounds like a problem, but when you look at the success Boyle had in his role and what Burns has done when he’s been unleashed (2010-11 and 2011-12), it makes a big difference as his points per-game those two seasons was 0.51. If he can produce at that level, calls to move him back up front from fans should be minimal.