This offseason a perfect time for Sharks to trade Brent Burns

This offseason a perfect time for Sharks to trade Brent Burns
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

[UPDATE: Burns has been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.]

To a certain extent, there really isn’t a “bad” time for the Sharks to unload expensive veteran contracts. Deep down, the Sharks must at least have an inkling that they need to rebuild. Yet, evidence is mounting that this specific offseason — heck, maybe this week — may serve as the perfect time for the Sharks to trade Brent Burns.

Interestingly, new Sharks GM Mike Grier isn’t exactly throwing cold water on a possible Brent Burns trade.

Grier’s even wisely framing the situation as Burns taking the lead (not the Sharks) when it comes to a possible trade.

“He’s been here a long time. He’s been a great Sharks player. I’ll let him kind of lead the way a little bit on that, go off his lead,” Grier said about Burns on Tuesday, via San Jose Hockey Now’s Sheng Peng. “As a former player myself, as you get older, you want to keep that competitive fire burning. And what keeps that burning is the chase for the Cup and winning.”

Well, isn’t that interesting.

Brent Burns, not Sharks, would call shots in a trade situation

For one thing, Grier’s wording works as clever PR. Fans will be more likely to approve of a popular player being traded if that player is on board with the idea.

Of course, it’s also pragmatic.

Brent Burns’ contract carries serious trade protection, as he merely submits a list of three teams he’d accept a trade to.

That said, there can be wiggle room between a mandatory no-trade list and the array of teams a player might accept a trade to if someone merely asks them. That’s especially true that veteran player’s team is in a rebuild — voluntary or not.

[NHL free agency tracker 2022: Full list of offseason signings]

Beyond that pivotal no-trade clause, there are some key notes about Burns and his contract.

  • The deal has three years remaining (through 2024-25). This is especially relevant because Burns is older than some might realize. In March, he turned 37.
  • If Burns signs off on a trade (or the Sharks hash out a deal with a team on his list), then the contract could be appealing for a market that values under-the-radar savings. Burns carries a robust salary cap hit of $8M. The actual cost is quite a bit less. In 2022-23, there’s a $3.5M salary bonus that was already paid, and a mere $3M actual salary. In 2023-24 and 2024-25, his combined actual salary is just $5M.

Stars, Hurricanes among plausible Burns trade destinations

If Burns ends up flexible with trade destinations, you could talk yourself into quite a few possibilities. That said, there are a number of teams who may be especially interested in a Burns trade.

Dallas Stars

As Elliotte Friedman mentioned, Brent Burns owns a permanent residence in Texas. One assumes that domicile includes many strange and exotic critters. So, logically enough, the Stars stand as a preferred trade destination for Brent Burns.

(It probably doesn’t hurt that Texas is one of those states with relaxed taxes compared to other markets.)

Notably, the Stars tap into why this could be an especially lucrative time for the Sharks to trade Burns. They’re likely to lose John Klingberg to free agency, and Klingberg might be the most prominent defenseman available. That ranking changes quite a bit if you can get a similarly-priced, bigger name blueliner in a trade, though.

Now, it’s worth noting that the Sharks might need to be creative to trade Burns to the Stars. While Dallas has a projected $17.8M in salary cap space, RFAs Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger are poised to eat a lot of that up.

Would the Stars want to shake loose from Radek Faksa (a player who they love, but costs $3.25M) or Ryan Suter (3.65M) to make a deal work? Would the Sharks retain some money, realizing that they’d be retaining for three seasons?

That could get tricky, but it’s worth a look — especially for San Jose.

Carolina Hurricanes

When it became clear the Hurricanes would let Tony DeAngelo walk, it felt like they got a value contract (even while holding their nose about his many negative headlines) and they’d want to find the next bargain. Maybe the Hurricanes instead want to go even bigger?

It’s unclear if Carolina ranks as a “preferred destination.” That said, they’re a winning team with the space to add Burns without too much pain.

For a squad that’s sometimes been about creating tons of chances without finish, maybe Burns could be the exclamation point at the end of those sentences?

Other suitors are possible, if Burns ended up flexible

Really, plenty of other teams could get in the running if Burns was willing to play ball. The Stars and Hurricanes make the most sense, though.

No better time than now for Sharks to trade Burns

As mentioned before, the Sharks balked at some opportunities to jumpstart their rebuild. Instead of making the painful-but-wise decision to trade Tomas Hertl, they gave him a risky extension.

With all of that money and three straight years out of the playoffs in mind, you could argue there really aren’t many bad times to unload shaky Sharks contracts. Yet, this is an especially shrewd time to move Burns.

First things first, there’s the market. Plenty of teams won’t want to pay top dollar for John Klingberg, but want a defenseman. That’s where someone like Burns or Jeff Petry steps in.

Considering his age (again, 37), the more the Sharks wait, the more they risk bribing someone to trade for Brent Burns, instead of getting something for him. The clock is ticking.

Take a look at Burns’ career xSPAR (expected standings points above replacement) chart at Evolving Hockey, and you’ll note that Burns’ underlying impact has been more understated for a while now.

This offseason a perfect time for Sharks to trade Brent Burns Evolving Hockey
via Evolving Hockey

Hockey Viz’s heat map also tells some of the story. Burns brings offensive value, but struggles in his own end. (It’s part of the reason some argue that Burns should move back to forward.)

This offseason a perfect time for Sharks to trade Brent Burns Hockey Viz
Via Hockey Viz

[Top storylines heading into 2022 NHL Free Agency]

Don’t get this twisted, this isn’t a point about Burns being “bad.” Instead, there are red flags that match the concentration of scoring chances the Sharks bleed away in front of the net with Burns on the ice. This is an aging player whose flaws may only become more exaggerated with time. Any suitor must determine if Burns is actually worth that $8M cap hit (or whatever the price may be after possible salary retention).

Plenty of teams will see this as a worthwhile gamble. Still, more analytics-leaning teams may shy away, at least from a significant price tag. With more teams investing in analytics as time passes, the Sharks risk losing more potential trade destinations for Burns.

Again: with time, that could mean begging someone to take Burns off your hands while giving up assets, instead of receiving nice futures for Burns.

Ultimately, this is the best time for the Sharks to trade Burns. It will be a lot easier if he’s on board with the idea, though.

Scroll Down For:

    Panthers offer Sarah Nurse deal to lead girls hockey program

    Getty Images
    0 Comments

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers are trying to sign a high-scoring forward who has an Olympic gold medal and two world championships, with hopes of getting the deal done in the coming days.

    If it happens, she won’t be playing for the Panthers.

    Sarah Nurse, the Canadian forward who had a highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin during the NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition, has the chance to run the Panthers’ new program designed to get more girls playing hockey.

    Florida president Matthew Caldwell offered the job to Nurse publicly – very publicly, at a lectern, with a microphone, before a crowd of onlookers. And he was serious.

    “I’m going to embarrass you, but we’re going to offer you a job today,” Caldwell told Nurse, who was seated in the crowd. “We want you to be the face of our girls program at the War Memorial. So, are you in? On the spot? We don’t deal with agents, OK. I’m a tough negotiator.”

    The idea to hire Nurse was first floated to Caldwell by Melissa Fitzgerald. She’s the general manager for the War Memorial, which is the two-rink facility being refurbished by the team and will become its practice headquarters.

    “We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks,” Caldwell told The Associated Press. “Our youth hockey team kind of brought it up as a joke to me, but I said, `Let’s think big. We’re building this huge facility. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.”‘

    The only part Caldwell was less than serious about with Nurse was how the Panthers don’t deal with agents. He spoke with Nurse’s representative, Thomas Houlton, after the event.

    Houlton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He and Caldwell spoke for about 15 minutes after the event, which was attended by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Panthers stars Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk, and dozens of kids who got to play ball hockey afterward.

    Nurse played for Canada’s world-champion teams in 2021 and 2022, along with Canada’s Olympic gold winners at the Beijing Games last year.

    She was one of five women’s players from USA Hockey and Team Canada – the two most dominant women’s national teams in the world – who were part of the skills events. She wore custom skates highlighting Black History month and the Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit focused on getting more Black girls and women into the sport.

    She used a move made famous by Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg when he helped Sweden win gold at the 1994 Olympics against Shesterkin, a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie.

    U.S. star Hilary Knight didn’t think Nurse’s goal should have surprised anyone, saying, “she’s a top scorer.”

    Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

    ovechkin all star
    Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports
    1 Comment

    SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

    That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there.

    Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

    Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

    It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

    Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

    And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

    Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

    WELCOME HOME, LU

    Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

    In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

    He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

    Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

    “You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

    Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

    Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    “I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

    He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there’s more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

    “It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

    REMEMBERING JIMMY

    Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

    Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

    Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

    Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

    ANTHEM POISE

    “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

    Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

    And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

    SLAP SHOTS

    Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

    Chase Agnello-Dean/Getty Images
    0 Comments

    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

    mark stone surgery
    Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports
    2 Comments

    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.