Monday, August 1, 2011

San Jose Sharks Extend Brent Burns; Worst Fears Subsided

The San Jose Sharks signed newly acquired defenseman Brent Burns to a five-year contract worth $28.8 million, according to the San Jose Mercury News' David Pollack.

Burns is set to receive $5.76 million per year.

The 26-year-old was acquired by the Sharks back in late-June in a deal that sent Devin Setoguchi, prospect Charlie Coyle and their 2011 first round pick to the Minnesota Wild.

Another deal the following week dealt Dany Heatley to the Wild for Martin Havlat.

The overall fear was that the Sharks had given up all that firepower in the trade for Burns, who may not even sign with the team after the 2011-12 season.

The fear quickly subsided with the extension of Burns on Monday.

"When we acquired Brent, it was our intention to make sure that he remained an important piece of our organization moving forward and we are very pleased that we have been able to do that, said GM Doug Wilson in the press release on Monday, obtained through Pollack. "As an elite-level defenseman who is just entering his prime, we are looking forward to meshing Brent’s skills with our existing core group."

The original impression was that San Jose gave up too much for a defenseman as raw as Burns, who would become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2011-12 season.

Setoguchi was supposed to be the young scoring future of the Sharks, but had yet to spark any thought of him ever getting there.

Coyle was originally supposed to be apart of the distant future in San Jose. The 19-year-old has been performing well at Boston University and was considered one of the Sharks' top prospects.

The first round pick that the Sharks gave up turned out to be Zack Phillips, a talented center who turns 20-years old later this year.

However, the plethora of players given to the Wild in exchange for Burns just got a whole lot more equal with the extension.

It was the only thing holding San Jose back from calling this trade a success. Now that the extension is done and Burns will be apart of this team for the next five years, we can call it just that.

Burns is an All-Star in just his first full season in three years. A misdiagnosed concussion resulted in a major setback in his career and limited him to just 106 games played in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

What the All-Star defenseman brings to the Sharks is exactly what San Jose has been missing the past few years.

Burns brings a physical presence on the defensive end, as well as a keen offensive awareness on both the power play and even ice.

He also possesses a mean shot from the point.

What Burns also brings to the Sharks is a stability on defense for the next five years.

It has been well-documented that San Jose's biggest weakness was that of the defense. Since Rob Blake retired in 2010, the Sharks have had a hard time finding a player with Blake's leadership and offensive awareness on the defensive end.

Burns solves that problem, as well as makes the team a physical threat.

He stands 6'5" and 219 pounds, making him the tallest player on the current roster. Joe Thornton is his offensive counterpart in height and weight.

The overall feeling is that he will most likely pair up with Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the second line to start the season. The physicality of Burns and finesse play of Vlasic should prove to be a huge success.

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