Brent Burns is a phenomenal hockey player with a unique skillset that most hockey players would kill to have. He's 6'5" and 235 pounds with a swift skating stride, hands that can make his opponents look silly, and a booming shot with a quick release. The Minnesota Wild originally drafted him as a forward, 20th overall in 2003. Since then, he has bounced back and forth between being a forward and a defenseman.
The San Jose Sharks initially traded for Burns to use him as a defenseman, but he switched to forward during the 2012-13 season and stayed at the position through the 2013-14 season. He did extremely well playing alongside Joe Thornton and was seen as one of the best power forwards at the time. Last season, Burns went back to defense with the departure of the offensive dynamo, Dan Boyle in free agency.
Burns had a great season last year if you're looking at his offensive statistics. He had 60 points in 82 games that ranked second in the NHL in points by a defenseman. The only one ahead of him was Erik Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy as best defenseman in the league. Now, if you're someone who watched Burns all season, saying his season was great is not accurate.
After all, Burns is a defenseman and he struggled more than anyone in the defensive zone last year. He was constantly flopping on the ice and couldn't stay on his feet, subsequently getting scored on frequently. All of the offensive firepower he brought last season couldn't make up for defensive deficiencies.
Through the first four games of this new season, Burns looked fantastic in the defensive zone and could be a Norris winner. Enter, Paul Martin. The Sharks signed Martin over the summer and he immediately was said to be Burns' new partner. Martin deserves all the credit for Burns' resurgence in the defensive zone. They looked like they could be a top shutdown pairing in the NHL.
Unfortunately, Martin would suffer an injury and Burns went back to looking like a defensive mess. Without Martin, Burns will continue to be a mess and Sharks fans everywhere are begging for Martin's return. Logan Couture's injury has received most of the attention for the Sharks, but Martin is arguably the bigger loss because the Sharks are basically losing two top defenseman since Burns is a defensive liability without Martin.