33-Year-Old Defenseman – San Jose Sharks
Brent Burns Contract Information:
Signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with the Sharks in November 2016.
Burns (undisclosed) will be in the lineup for Tuesday night's showdown in San Jose, NHL.com reports.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
The forward-turned-defenseman went bananas in 2015-16, piling up 27 goals and 48 assists while firing an insane 353 shots on goal, second in the league only to a certain sniper named Alex Ovechkin and way more than the 248 by Erik Karlsson, the next best blueliner. The 2003 first-round pick found another gear in the playoffs, imposing his will with an additional 24 points, including four power-play goals, and 77 shots in 24 games in a marvelous Stanley Cup run that ended two wins short of the ultimate prize. Heading into this season, conventional wisdom dictates that the 31-year-old can't possibly sustain that level of production and that teams will have spent all summer brainstorming ways to shut him down. However, his large frame, strength, speed, skillset and overall physicality suggest otherwise. Depending on format, you could argue that Burns deserves to be the first defenseman off the board ahead of Karlsson, particularly based on power-play goals (seven to Karlsson's one) and shots on goal. It's also worth mentioning that Karlsson averaged over three additional minutes of ice time per game and had seven more points than Burns, while their PIM (50 and 53) and plus/minus (minus-2 and minus-5) were comparable. Regardless, the Sharks' most dynamic player is a treat to watch and appears poised to continue to dazzle come October.
As it turned out, Burns' return to the blue line last year was accompanied by the biggest offensive output of his career, a 60-point boosted by a career-high 24 power-play points. After a campaign like that, you'd have to be insane to move him back to forward, and new coach Pete DeBoer has said he will indeed keep Burns on D. So, where do we go from here? Burns may have a tough time replicating last year's 43 assists, but a goal total in the mid-teens is almost guaranteed when you shoot the puck as much as he does, and he's sure to be a major cog on the Sharks' top power-play unit. The scary thought for the rest of the Pacific Division: He may be 30 years old now, but he could actually still get better.
As far as fantasy goes, Burns had a breakout year last season. But assessing his potential value for the 2014-15 season is tricky. Burns will be moving back to defense, so that makes his stats from last year -- a career-high 26 goals and 48 points in 69 games -- a bit useless, since he was a top-line winger last season. Burns is certainly an offensive-minded defenseman; he tallied 17 goals in a defense-only season for the Wild in 2010-11. He's a strong pick and is expected to replace Dan Boyle's production, especially on the power play. And he may even find himself playing forward as things shift for the "rebuilding" Sharks. There's a lot of upside with Burns, but you could get burned if you go after him too early in the draft. Someone will reach for him based on those numbers we told you to dismiss. He'll be good for a defenseman, but not as good as he was as a top-line wing.
Where to start with Burns? Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson has made it official that Burns will be starting the season as a forward. And now that he's probably listed as a forward in your fantasy league, it's time to adjust your expectations, particularly in keeper formats. If you had him last year, he was an incredible pick-up because you were judging his offensive production against defenseman in many leagues. So his nine goals in just 30 games were good to tie him for fifth overall among defenseman where he still had eligibility. Among forwards, he'd have been tied for 135th. Nonetheless, Burns finished the season with 20 points in 30 games. And those numbers look even better when you note that he had 20 points in 24 games at forward. The scoring spark was no doubt aided by being on San Jose’s top line alongside Joe Thornton, a spot he'll probably start in 2013-14. And those six games started on the blue line will give him eligibility there in many leagues, too. That’s a huge boost to Burns' fantasy potential if he stays on the first line, given that Jumbo Joe is perennially among the league leaders in assists and Burns augments Jumbo’s playmaking ability with great speed, great hands and what might be the longest stick in the NHL, Zdeno Chara aside. Drafting Burns isn’t without some risk, though. There are unknown quantities at play coming onto his first full season at forward in the NHL (he played forward prior to his NHL debut in Minnesota). But with Burns able to train and prepare for the position this offseason, Burns could be a great pick-up on draft day. You might even be able to get him a little later than expected because his numbers don't jump off the page when he's listed with other forwards. But don't ever forget the injury risk -- the guy is going to miss at least a dozen games with various ouches.
Burns, the former first round pick of the Minnesota Wild, had a slow start in his first year with San Jose. However, he did experience a second half surge that resulted in leading the Sharks defense in goals with 11. The 27-year old should be coming into his prime and is thought to be the future anchor of the defense. At 6-5 and 224, he is a force on the ice and, with better conditioning, could see an increase of ice time from last year's 22 minutes-plus per game. Last season Burns lead the Sharks' defense with five power play goals, which means he'll probably see plenty of time with the first unit during the man-advantage.
Burns tallied 17 goals and 29 assists with the Wild last season, which were career bests in both categories. The key to this successful campaign was that he managed to stay healthy unlike his two seasons previous. Apparently, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson liked what he saw from the 6-foot-5, 219 pound defenseman, as he executed an offseason deal that brought Burns and a future second-round draft pick to the Bay Area in exchange for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and the 28th overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He then got Burns' signature on a five-year contract extension in August. While Burns already has seven years of NHL experience at the age of 26, all of that time had been spent with one club (Minnesota), so fantasy owners will have to be patient if the big puck-moving rearguard gets off to a slow start donning a new sweater in 2011-12.
It was a lost season for Burns in 2009-10 as he missed two months with a concussion. He was supposed to be the primary beneficiary of the move from a defensive trap system to a more open attack, but he never got situated in the offense. He still scored 20 points in 47 games. He has the offensive skill set since he played wing early in his career while having the size to play defense. If he can stay healthy after two injury-plagued seasons, he could be a breakout candidate.
Two seasons ago, Burns scored 15 goals and 43 points as a blueliner. Last season injuries limited him to 59 games and 27 points. Burns is a defenseman who can score goals and plays on the power play, and if he can manage a full season this year, double digit goals should be a given. He could be the main beneficiary of Minnesota's move from a defense trap system to a much more open attack.
Burns' career plane took off earlier than most had anticipated. In 2007-08, he notched 43 points and quickly became the Wild's most important weapon on the blueline. Further entrenching his status as an emerging star, Burns earned the designation of best defender in the World Championships this past summer. Interestingly, he only began playing defense when he became a member of the Wild, having played right wing in the OHL. With Minnesota in 2007-08, he amassed 43 points in (15G 28A) with 80 PIM. The 23-year-old is playing beyond his years and is an intriguing fantasy option as a top ten defenseman.
After being moved around from the blue line to forward, Burns finally stuck at defense late last season and seemed to click. Head coach Jacques Lemaire praised him for his defense and overall play, which seemed to give him more opportunities. He scored seven points in 15 games in March with and was plus-9 after Lemaire gave him more of an opportunity. At age 22, he may have finally figured out the NHL game and he's a good deep sleeper this season as a result.
The Wild's 2003 first-round draft pick has moved back and forth from defenseman to forward and hasn't developed into a fantasy option. But before you write him off, remember he's just 21 years old.
Burns is a former first-round draft choice (20th overall in 2003) who is being moved to defenseman from forward. He could have one of the better scoring touches of the Wild defensemen, but he may need a year of development in his new role.