The San Jose Sharks made a lot of debatable statements this offseason, but they didn’t really blow things up like some feared (and others requested). One significant move involved a tweak from within, as the organization decided to move Brent Burns back to defense.
GM Doug Wilson explained the logic to the NHL.com on Friday.
We acquired him in a trade to be a stud defenseman,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. “To find a guy at that size who can shoot and skate that’s played in this League and been an All-Star as a defenseman, we don’t think there’s going to be any issue there, and especially if you’re working with [associate coach] Larry Robinson and [assistant coach] Jim Johnson.”
Maybe just as importantly, the 29-year-old appears to prefer playing on defense. The fit seems reasonable enough with Dan Boyle fleeing to the New York Rangers.
The thing is, more than a few believe that Burns simply offers more as a barreling power forward as he does as a very nice defensive piece. Fear the Fin made a strong argument against moving him (albeit back in May):
But even harder to find is the kind of unrestrained physical force Brent Burns was as a power forward for the past season and a half. He was one of the most effective forecheckers in the league, excelled on the cycle and at protecting the puck along the wall in tandem with Joe Thornton and generated a boatload of scoring opportunities every time he stepped on the ice. Oh, and he scored. A ton. That might come as news to people who only look at the counting stats (Burns scored 31 goals and 37 assists in 92 games up front) but those undersell Burns’ true offensive contributions and his real impact in transforming the Sharks from a team that couldn’t buy a goal at even-strength for two and a half years into the 5th-best even-strength offense in the league.
On the bright side, the Sharks boast a quality player, whether they roll him out on the wing or the blueline.
Logan Couture’s simple statements to NHL.com might really say it the best.
“It’s weird when you think about Brent Burns and how good of a forward he was when he moved up front,” Couture said. “Then you remember he was an NHL All-Star as a defenseman and he scored almost 20 goals as a defenseman. I’m looking forward to it. He’s always entertaining when he’s on the ice.
He’s pretty entertaining at times off the ice, too.
(H/T to The Score.)