With the trade deadline less than a week away, the rumor mill is kicking into full gear. According to Frank Seravalli of the Daily News, Paul Holmgrem has reported interest in Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks.
Seravalli states “After Sharks GM Doug Wilson unloaded defenseman Douglas Murray to Pittsburgh on Monday, many pointed toward veteran blue liner Dan Boyle and linked him to the Flyers. Turns out, Boyle was simply the red herring. Instead, the Flyers’ brass wanted a closer look at Brent Burns, among others”
Brent Burns would be a welcome addition to the Philadelphia Flyers’ blue line, but is he the number one defenseman the Flyers should be looking at? Burns has had some recent success in the last few years. In 2010-2011, he has accumulated 46 points while scoring 17 goals. In 2011-2012, his production slipped to 37 points and 11 goals.
A player of Burns’ caliber is needed in the system the Flyers currently run, and I believe he would thrive in the Orange and Black. Burns is an excellent puck moving defenseman, who can skate the puck from end to end on any given rush. The Flyers are currently lacking puck moving defenseman who can make entry into the offensive zone like Burns is capable of doing.
San Jose acquired Brent Burns along with a second round pick during the 2012 NHL Draft for Charlie Coyle (San Jose’s top prospect), Devin Setoguchi, and a first round draft pick. If the San Jose Sharks have any interest in moving him, we should suspect they want a similar package in return. That would almost undoubtedly mean Sean Couturier or another top young player would be on the move.
Furthermore, it is necessary to take into consideration that Brent Burns does carry injury concerns with him. This year he has missed 18 games due to a serious leg injury. Despite Burns playing 80 and 81 games respectively over the last two years, he only saw the ice in 59 and 47 games in the two years prior to that. Burns has also suffered multiple concussions throughout his career, and we are all familiar with the Flyers’ history of concussions.
Another issue concerning Burns this year is that his stats are deceiving. He has accumulated all eight of his points while playing as a winger on the Sharks top line; he has yet to attain any points this year playing as a defenseman. Burns was switched to play forward because the lack of depth on the Sharks team. They are desperate for wingers, and Burns has gained familiarity with playing this position throughout his career.
Although Brent Burns would be an appealing player for the Flyers to trade for, it would be more sensible to target a more distinguished defenseman than Burns, considering the price it would take to acquire him. Taking into account the rumors surrounding Keith Yandle in Phoenix, he would be a much more suitable player to trade for. Burns carries a cap hit just north of 5.7 million, while Yandle’s cap hit is at 5.2 million. At that price, Yandle is much more valuable than Burns. To acquire Burns, the cost would be just about the same as it would be in procuring another top-end defenseman. If that desired defender is available (perhaps, Yandle,) the Flyers should target him instead of Burns.
One interesting thing worth noting is that in his statement regarding Brent Burns, Frank Seravalli used the phrase “among others.” The Flyers already have had reported interest in Dan Boyle, but could there be other possible players that interest the Flyers on the Sharks?
As the deadline approaches, I am sure it will become clearer what the Flyers’ plans are. They currently sit seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As the Flyers stand right now, I don’t see them acquiring any rentals to help with a playoff push that most likely won’t happen. If they do intend to make a move, it will be one that helps their roster out now, and in the future.