Brent Burns is a defenseman once again. After being used as a forward for the last year and a half, Burns is sliding back to his original role on defense heading into the 2014-15 season. The Sharks recently explained the move, stating that Burns was originally brought in as a defenseman and he’ll be a tremendous asset for the team when he’s patrolling the blue line.
San Jose GM Doug Wilson commented on moving Burns back:
“We acquired him in a trade to be a stud defenseman. To find a guy at that size who can shoot and skate that’s played in this League and been an All-Star as a defenseman, we don’t think there’s going to be any issue there, and especially if you’re working with [associate coach] Larry Robinson and [assistant coach] Jim Johnson.
It’s also something that Brent really wants to do. In my conversation with him, he views himself as a defenseman. Having that big body back there that can be creative and also shoot the puck like he does, we think will be a great asset to our team.”
First, let’s stop and give Burns some credit for the incredible way he handled moving from defense to offense. That’s not an easy task and Burns made it look easy. His size and strength made him formidable on the forecheck and his offensive skills resulted in 22 goals and 26 assists. He clearly is a strong option up front, but the Sharks believe he’s best suited on D.
Realistically, Burns’ transition back has a lot to do with the loss of Dan Boyle. The Sharks lost one of their best offensive weapons on defense and they’ve moved Burns back to fill the void as a result. While the experiment at forward was a success and Burns passed with flying colors, he may be best suited in a regular role on defense.