Brent Burns record for scoring by a defenceman on the San Jose Sharks continues to grow, and he is currently tied for both most goals and assists in a season with 26 and 43, respectively. With those combined shared records, Burns has eclipsed Sandis Ozolinsh’s 64-point season in 1993-94 as the best by a San Jose defenseman.
Brent Burns (26-39—65) posted one assist to break single-season @SanJoseSharks record for pts by a d-man (S. Ozolinsh: 26-38—64 in 1993-94).
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 21, 2016
Brent Burns Record Season Continues
Ozolinsh and partner Jeff Norton were the defensive tandem often deployed with the Sharks famous “OV” line. Ozolinsh would finish third in team scoring with 26 goals and 38 assists, setting the bar early in the Sharks existence for defensive scoring. The record would stand for the next 20 seasons. It would be another ten years before the man who would break it would be drafted into the NHL.
Much has been made of Brent Burns’ journey as a defenseman. Selected 20th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry draft as a right winger by the Minnesota Wild, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire set about converting the 6’5 231 pound forward to defense almost immediately. Burns would spend the 2004-2005 campaign with the AHL’s Houston Aeros under his future coach in San Jose, Todd McLellan learning to play defense. Burns would return for good to the NHL the following season as a defender.
The switch has proven to be a wise decision for all involved, despite a brief interlude as a right wing for the Sharks. The Sharks have benefited in Burns dynamic ability, and now ice arguably one of the most versatile top-four pairings in the NHL that can both shut teams down and lead the offense from the backend. For Burns, he has entered the realm of elite NHL defenseman, second only to Erik Karlsson over the past two years.
Statistically, the 2015-16 season will likely end as Burns’ greatest year to date in the NHL. In addition to his career-best 69 points, he is fourth on the Sharks in Corsi-for at 52.7% with a slightly unlucky season PDO of 98.5. Chewing up big minutes for the Sharks, Burns is skating over 26 minutes per night with nearly a 50/50 zone deployment. Only netminder Martin Jones has been on the ice more for San Jose this season.
Burns is also a shot-generating machine, landing 328 shots on goal, which is second only to Alex Ovechkin’s 364. This season Burns has two games with 10 or more shots, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first defender to do so since Al MacInnis in 2003.
Per @EliasSports , Burns is the first NHL defenseman to have two games with 10+ shots on goal in a season since Al MacInnis in 2002-03
— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) March 26, 2016
It is only a matter of time before Burns owns all the key Sharks defensive records, and likely will be remembered as the most dangerous man to patrol the San Jose blueline. Burns has bested Ozolinsh’s record by four points and has six games left on the schedule to add to the record. Even as he adds to his record-breaking season, Burns likely will not garner serious consideration for the Norris trophy, despite the statistics heavily pointing to his contention for the award. Either way, San Jose knows what it has in everyone’s favorite All-Star Wookiee: a true dual-threat defenseman whenever he steps onto the ice.