Behind The Bench: Brent Burns
Born: March 9, 1985
Wt: 219 lbs
Draft: 20th overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2003
Plays for: San Jose Sharks, Defense, Shoots Right
Jersey No.: #88
Regular Season: 453 GP – 55 G – 128 A – 183 P
Playoffs: 11 GP – 0 G – 3 A – 3 P
The Minnesota Wild with the 20th overall pick in the 2003 select Brampton Battalion right winger, Brent Burns.
“When I was drafted by Brampton I was a right winger. I played defense for my Tier 2 team. When I came to camp, (the coach) said you just played your last game at defense. I like forward, I like getting involved in the play. Scoring points makes you feel more involved.”
–Brent Burns on his position preference at the draft
Burns played defense until the start his junior career in the OHL in 2002. After being drafted by the Brampton Battalion, head coach and general manager Stan Butler converted him into a forward. He spend most of the season as a fourth line grinder but near the end of the season, Burns was rewarded with more ice time and it paid in spades immediately. Burns scored 6 goals and 12 points in the last 10 games and would lead the Battalion in scoring with 5 goals and 6 assists in 11 games and scored 2 game winning goals. Burns was named to the OHL All-Rookie team was voted runner up to the OHL Most Improved Player.
After being drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2003, head coach, Jacques Lemaire, converted Burns back into a defenseman and played 36 games for the Wild in his rookie season in 03/04. Burns struggled with the transition from forward to defense but through the struggles, he did showcase a natural ability to join the rush from the blueline. Due to the 2004 NHL lockout, Burns spent the 04/05 season with the Houston Aeros, where he played 73 games and tallied 27 points.
The NHL lockout helped Burns develop into a NHL caliber defenseman and for his hard work during the lockout, he earned a spot on the Wild’s 05/06 roster. Burns finished the season with 16 points in 72 games. The Wild had a disappointing first season after the lockout and finished last in the Northwest division. Burns continued to develop as an offensive defenseman during the 06/07 season. He struggled in the first 3 months of the season until star forward Marian Gaborik returned from injury to make an immediate impact on the offensively challenged Wild. Burns posted 5 points in the first 3 months of the season but with Gaborik’s return, Burns would post 20 points from January until the end of the season. Burns finished the season with 25 points in 77 games.
Burns emerged as the Wild’s best defenseman and an elite defenseman in the league during the 07/08 season. He established a career-high in goals (15) and points (43) and finished in the top 5 for goals scored by defenseman and in the top 15 for points by a defenseman. With Burns’ help, the Wild made the playoffs for the second year in a row but were eliminated in the first round in 6 games by the Colorado Avalanche.
In an odd move, Lemaire decided to have Burns split his time between forward and defense during the 08/09 season. Burns had mild success until he was sidelined with a concussion. By the season’s end, Burns played in 59 games and posted 27 points. Burns suffered another concussion during the 09/10 season and missed close to 2 months of play. Burns was limited to 47 games and only scored 20 points.
After two disappointing seasons, Burns returned to form and was healthy for a majority of the 10/11 season. Burns had a career-best season, he had set career highs in goals (17), assists (29) and points (46). Despite his career-best season, the Minnesota Wild traded Burns and a second round pick in 2012 to the San Jose Sharks for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and the Sharks’ first round draft pick in 2011 at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Burns is a large and mobile offensive defenseman. He has a great first pass but also likes to join the rush. He is very effective at carrying the puck up the ice and is extremely lethal in the offensive zone when given time or space. Burns has a blistering slap shot that he has no trouble getting off and will even jump down near the net to cash in on a rebound. Besides Burns’ offensive game, he also likes to play a very physical game. Burns uses his body to punish opposing forwards along the boards and in the corners in his own zone. Defensively, Burns is very capable in his own zone and he can be counted on in the last few minutes of a game to preserve a one goal lead, he is also an effective penalty killer. Despite his career plus-minus, Burns can be depended on in his own zone but his real value lies in the offense he brings from the back end.
Burns will be joining a very deep offensive team in the Sharks. Their offense is potent with players likes Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Martin Havlat, Ryan Clowe and Logan Couture up front and offensive rearguard Dan Boyle. Burns is expected to slot into the second pairing with Marc-Edouard Vlasic and will see ample power play time on the first unit with Dan Boyle. It will be fun to watch just how many points Burns can put up with the offensive team the Sharks have.
Although he will be seeing second pairing time with either the Sharks second or third forward lines, his point totals will only go up. Unlike the Wild, the Sharks possess more than one offensive line. The Sharks second and third line could potentially outscoure the first line as Clowe, Pavelski and Couture are beginning to surface as true offensive threats. If opposing teams aim to shut down Clowe, Pavelski and Couture, the Sharks still have Thornton and Marleau that are effective point producers. Burns should be expected to put up between 45 – 55 points with a much improved career plus minus by the end of next season.
Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.
Edited by: John Jasinski