Sharks spotlight: Brent Burns

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Sharks spotlight: Brent Burns

Sharks spotlight: Brent BurnsAge: 27 DIn his eighth season in the NHL, and first with the Sharks,defenseman Brent Burns had 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points and 34 penaltyminutes in 81 games. Burns was tied for 11th among NHL defensemen ingoals, and was 10th in shots with 201. He added a goal and an assistfor two points in five playoff games. Burns begins a five-year contractextension in 2012-13 at an annual cap hit of 5.76 million.
Kurz says: Burns was brought to San Jose in a highlypublicized deal a little less than a year ago, with the hope that he would bethe proverbial final piece of the puzzle after two straight Western ConferenceFinal defeats. He immediately improved the blue line depth, which was theSharks biggest weakness at the end of the 2011 campaign.And Burns did, in fact, show flashes of that player theSharks hoped they were getting when they made the deal. The 6-5, 230-pounder isamong the leagues best skating defensemen for a big man, and when hes playingwell, is responsible in his own end while also being a threat in the offensivezone and on the power play.Still, it seemed like a season-long adjustment for Burns,who admitted at the end of the season that he felt some pressure to help putthe team over the hump. That was reflected most in his physical play, which,although he never had the reputation as a nasty, Chris Pronger-type, seemed todecline in his first season in San Jose. The proof of that is in his penaltyminutes, as Burns went from 98 in his final year with the Wild to just 34 withthe Sharks. The Sharks miserable penalty killing may have also prevented Burnsfrom being as physical in front of the net and along the boards as he couldhave been.SLIDESHOW: Grading the Sharks
Brodie says: No Sharks player had more eyeballs on him inthe first half of the season than Brent Burns.Even though the team had brought in a hand-full of new players, theformer-winger seemed to be surrounded by more hype and expectations than anyoneelse. Integration was indeed a process for Burns, and one thattook a little longer than desired or expected.But in the end: he still led the blue line in goals, and finished theregular season a 8. Not to mention hestayed healthy for 81 games while averaging 22:32 per night, and kept hispenalty minutes low. Burns started the year with Vlasic as a partner, but rotatedthrough several more as the season went on.He certainly held up his reputation as an offensive-minded defenseman;putting 201 shots on goal (2nd by Defensemen behind Boyle), byjumping in plays and getting pucks through from the back end.When you look up the term fun-loving, a picture of BrentBurns should likely reside next to it.His outgoing personality was even more apparent as he naturally grewcloser to teammates this season. In thisregard, he is also the first known NHL player to purposely mess up a reportershair during an in-game bench interview.2012-13 expectationsKurz says: Doug Wilson made it crystal clear after theseason that he expects Burns to be here for the long haul and besuccessful in the process, calling Burns a stud, and saying he thought Burnsfirst year as a Shark was better than his final season in Minnesota. Whilethats certainly debatable, Id say its very likely Burns has a better seasonnext year. Hell be fully acclimated to the Sharks system and his surroundingswhen training camp begins, and other offseason changes to the roster that areexpected this summer should help decrease any pressure he felt a year ago. Thespotlight wont be on him anymore.
While he may not be a number one defenseman of the pedigreeof a Drew Doughty or a Ryan Suter, I expect Burns will improve in his secondyear in teal.
RELATED: Brent Burns stats splits game logs
Brodie says: Youve got to think at this point, BradStuarts name is already penciled in the lineup next to Brent Burns for nextseason. But no matter whom he skateswith, Burns should be at a greater advantage this year, now that he is wellremoved from his first trade as a professional.All of the variables including a new coach, new teammates and newsurroundings will not be a factor this year.A lot of attention is going to be given to the new playersthat San Jose will acquire this Summer, and even more towards the new systemsthey implement. This could give Burnsthe opportunity to thrive right out of the gate by not being such a focalpoint, and flying under the radar.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.