According to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz there is a scenario where the San Jose Sharks could lose one of the best defensemen in the NHL over the past decade for nothing. That would be Brent Burns, who the Sharks might leave exposed during the Seattle expansion draft.
Sounds nuts, but Kurz explains why the Sharks might make such a move.
Saying the team has some difficult contract decisions to make and noting that both Erik Karlsson and Marc-Andre Vlasic must be protected, Burns becomes an expensive option at an older age where his production could decline, even if he is still useful. His salary still carries five more years at $8 million per season, but for an expansion team that could use a leader, some guaranteed production on the blueline and some name-drawing marketability, Burns checks a lot of boxes.
If the Sharks are unable to move Vlasic’s unfortunate contract and the salary cap doesn’t significantly rise, they could be tempted to let Burns depart. He’s no longer the perennial Norris Trophy candidate that he was just a couple of years ago, but Burns takes care of himself when it comes to diet and exercise and could still be a productive player into his late 30’s. Further, Sharks top prospect Ryan Merkley should be NHL-ready by 2021-22 at the latest and could fill the void left by Burns on the right side of the defense behind Karlsson.
There is, of course a chance the Sharks might trade Burns first. A lousy season has left the team wondering what they’ll need to do to get back to their winning ways and everything has been discussed except a full-on rebuild. GM Doug Wilson is not afraid to make deals and has pulled off some whoppers in the past. Burns isn’t safe, by any means.
Is There a Trade Target Worth Looking At?
Interestingly enough, Brian Witt of NBC Sports believes the Sharks shouldn’t be ruled out if Jack Eichel demands a trade out of Buffalo. If there’s anything to the rumors that Eichel is looking for a fresh start somewhere else, the Sharks might have the pieces it would take to pry the center away.
Going back to Buffalo could be a combination of Burns, Ryan Merkley, Jonathan Dahlen, and a first, if not more. Witt suggested Timo Meier as another option.