After a strong season and a half up on the first and second lines, the San Jose Sharks’ two-way forward, Brent Burns, is set to return back to the blue line for the upcoming season.
Since the acquisition and outstanding performance of Matt Irwin (D), Burns was converted back to his original right winger position in the middle of the 2012-13 season, a position the Minnesota Wild drafted him for in 2003. The success he saw, starting with two goals in two games at the beginning of his new position, had him staying up front for another season. During this past regular season, Burns boasted a 48 point season, putting up 22 goals and 26 assists in only 69 games played. He missed 13 games due to a facial injury.
Now, after the release of Boyle, Burns is making the transition back to the blue line, something he is eager to do. “It’s also something that Brent really wants to do. In my conversation with him, he views himself as a defenseman” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson to NHL correspondent Eric Gilmore. “Having that big body back there that can be creative and also shoot the puck like he does, we think will be a great asset to our team.”
With an impressive average and more points in this season than his previous two seasons with the Sharks as a defenseman, what could the switch bring for the Sharks in the upcoming season?
With Burns back on the defensive end, the Sharks could see a higher point production coming from the back. Burns’ long reach and accurate shot could bring the Sharks back up with another productive defense, something that was almost synonymous with Boyle’s tenure with the Sharks.
While many prefer Burns up at the front as a respectable first and second line right-winger, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound hole was left in the defensive pairings. With Burns returning to defense, the puck will be moving better and staying in the offensive zone. His physicality will definitely be missed up front, but his All-Star defensive skill could be exactly what this Sharks squad need.
This shift back, however, could be costly. After the news was released that Joe Thornton, and other team leadership, would be “stripped” of their leadership letters, the team dynamic seems to be shifting, possibly to make room for the abundance of young players Wilson seems to be hoarding up with the Worcester Sharks.
Not much information is available now on what Doug Wilson plans to do with the team moving forward into the training camps, but a rigorous shuffle of the lines seems to be in order and the Burns shift only seems to be a small part of it. A small, 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive lego, if you will.