Assuming he resists overtures from the Sharks to sign a massive extension first, Brent Burns will hit free agency next July as one of, if not the top player on the market. In fact, as Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News writes, his situation closely mirrors that which confronted Steven Stamkos last season.
Like Stamkos, Burns will be a much-desired commodity if he reaches the open market. And just like Tampa Bay, the Sharks surely want to retain their star player. Though again, like Tampa Bay, San Jose will want to do so at a price less than that which Burns will be able find in free agency.
Of course the situation has already generated a lot media attention and will continue to do so until a resolution is reached. For many players, his pending free agency can prove to be a distraction and perhaps even impact his performance on the ice. That doesn’t seem to be the case to date for Burns as the 31-year-old blue liner has already tallied six goals and 14 points through 15 contests. But should Burns struggle with the attention and seek advice on how to handle things, he has a good resource in his friend Stamkos.
As Pashelka notes, the two players have known each other for more than two decades and spent some time together this summer. But according to Stamkos, Burns didn’t broach the subject of his free agency:
“Can’t say we’ve had a lot of discussions about it. I’m definitely open to a conversation if it comes a point where he needs somebody to talk to. But I know Burnzie. He knows what he’s doing.”
Burns certainly enjoys playing in San Jose and likely will give the Sharks every opportunity to extend his contract. Surely the Sharks will hope that Burns, like Stamkos, decided to forsake the probability of more money to remain somewhere he is happy.
Elsewhere in the Pacific Division:
- It looks like the Kings may have dodged a bullet as the upper-body-injury suffered by team captain Anze Kopitar is considered day-to-day, reports Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times. Kopitar appeared to injure his wrist/upper arm area when taking a spill along the boards in the third period of the team’s tilt with Ottawa. Kopitar, one of the NHL’s best centers, did miss this afternoon’s game against Winnipeg but the fact he’s been listed as day-to-day is good news for a team that dropped to 7 – 8 – 1 after today’s shootout loss to the Jets. The 29-year-old native of Slovenia is off to a slow start production-wise, with just eight points in 15 games.
- Earlier this week the Vancouver Canucks assigned 20-year-old winger Jake Virtanen to their AHL affiliate in Utica. However, as reported, the team recalled Virtanen today after he saw action in two games this weekend for the Comets. Virtanen is off to a tough start to the campaign with just one point, an assist, in 10 games with Vancouver. He was also held off the scoresheet this weekend while suiting up for Utica. Virtanen did not play today in the Canucks 5 – 4 win OT win over Dallas.