With the San Jose Sharks strapped for cash this summer, and unable to make much in the way of changes, one of the more intriguing storylines for the club was whether or not they would keep Brent Burns up at forward, where he spent much of 2013, or move him back to the blue line.
The decision eventually came down that the Sharks would keep him up front, where he did have quite a bit of success. Logging minutes up on the top line, Burns proved to be an effective piece for a Sharks team that desperately needed offense at certain points throughout the year.
Burns only appeared in 30 games throughout the year, but finished with 20 points, including nine goals. The tools that Burns possesses, as a former forward, made him very successful. The question is whether or not Burns has the potential to become an elite forward now that he’s back up front permanently.
Many forget that Burns came into the league as a forward before he was moved back to the blue line during his days in Minnesota. He initially remained on the blue line in his first year with the Sharks, when he appeared in 81 games in 2011-12, before being moved up front after he returned from an injury early in 2013.
Burns has underrated speed for his size, and it’s that 6’5″ frame that helps to make him an effective forward. He can play the physical game, play down around the net, and has terrific hands. He has all the tools to be a top tier forward in this game. Whether or not he can put it together consistently enough, and remain healthy enough, to break into the ranks of the league’s elite, would be tough to see.
For the time being, though, we can expect him to be an offensive threat for a Sharks team that could use some younger players establishing themselves as core pieces.