The San Jose Sharks haven’t much to improve their roster that fell in the Western Conference Semifinals this season, but they probably didn’t have to. A team that looked so strong at points during the season likely has at least one more run left with this current, aging core.
One player in particular could pay huge dividends for the Sharks, and he’s one that has been in the mix for the last couple of years. That player is Brent Burns, who made the transition from defense up to forward, thanks to a thin forward group and a deep blue line. What initially began as an experiment worked out very well for San Jose.
Burns played pretty much the entire year as a forward for the Sharks, and while it may come as a bit of a surprise, he actually came into the league playing up front before transitioning back to the blue line. So it shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise that he looked very comfortable up there, and fared quite well.
He only appeared in 30 games because of injury, but finished with 20 points, for a scoring rate of 0.67, a solid figure for a top six winger, but especially one working on making a transition back up to a position he hasn’t played in several years. The Sharks figure the results could be even better next year.
Which is why they’ve already made the decision to keep him up front. The quick announcement/decision was no doubt due to the fact that it would allow them to press on with their other needs, and be able to approach the summer with a clear indication of what those needs were.
Burns lined up next to Joe Thornton for the entirety of his stint up front, and will very likely do so when the 2013-14 season rolls around. His winger on the other side isn’t clear at this point, but Burns is clearly a weapon up front. He’s a big body up there, at 6’5″ and about 220, and has excellent hands. He’s not afraid to play the physical game and get down in the corners, or even in front of the net.
Which is why the Sharks absolutely made the right decision in choosing to keep Burns up front. Assuming he’s healthy, he could fare better there than he has at any point on the blue line in his career, and has the potential to be a force up there. He could be just what the Sharks need to progress further into the postseason.