A conversation with Sharks' Burns, who awaits extension

A conversation with Sharks' Burns, who awaits extension


SAN JOSE – After Pete DeBoer’s first year as a head coach in Florida, he saw top defenseman Jay Bouwmeester depart via unrestricted free agency to Calgary. After just one season in New Jersey, it was star forward Zach Parise who moved to greener pastures in Minnesota, the summer after New Jersey advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

Now the second-year Sharks’ coach, DeBoer expressed confidence that defenseman Brent Burns, about the enter the final year of his contract, will get extended in San Jose at some point. He doesn’t consider Burns’ situation comparable to what happened with Bouwmeester or Parise.

“Both guys at that point were vague on whether they wanted to come back. I think it’s clear that Brent likes it here, [and] wants to come back,” DeBoer said. “It’s just a matter of getting people to find the fit.”

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson doesn’t comment on contract negotiations, and Burns’ agent is also keeping mum with one week to go until the start of the regular season, although there have been talks between the two sides according to a source.

Burns, though, painted a slightly hazier picture than DeBoer. Here’s the back-and-forth with him after Thursday’s skate:

You’re going into the last year of your deal here, does that weigh on your mind at all?

Burns: “No, I don’t really think about it, to be honest.”

Are you involved in the process?

Burns: “Yeah. Pretty involved.”

Any concern that nothing is done yet?

Burns: “I’ve got no concerns at all.”

Can you see yourself here long-term?

Burns: “I don’t know. We’ll see.”

You like being a part of this group though?

Burns: “Yeah, it’s been great. We love this city. It’s a great place to be. Great bunch of guys. There’s different sides, you know? You see it every year. Yesterday, you see a guy like [Dan Boyle]. Hey, who knows if they want me back? You never know. I’m a pretty easy going guy, we’ll just see what happens.”

Is it easy to put it in the back of your mind and just go out and play?

Burns: “Yeah, I don’t think about it. I’ve got no concerns. I’m excited for this year. We’ve got a great team. We feel good with our group, feel great with our coaching staff, the energy, the atmosphere. With team success comes individual success. As long as we do well, everything will work out.”

The 31-year-old is in line for a significant raise over his current salary of $5.76 million, and there is no doubt the Sharks would like him back. Burns’ importance to the club can’t be understated, of course, as the defenseman thrived under the new coaching staff and atmosphere. He finished with 75 points (27g, 48a), second in scoring among defensemen and 11th overall, and ended up third place in voting for the Norris Trophy.

Still, Wilson has made it a habit of not signing any of his players to deals that exceed five years. It’s a good bet that the Sharks’ general manager sees Dustin Byfuglien’s recent extension as a starting point, as the 31-year-old defenseman recently inked a five-year, $38 million contract with Winnipeg.

Wilson also has to factor in that he’ll be in the same position next summer with Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who has been underpaid at $4.25 million since 2013-14. Vlasic’s camp could easily point to Burns’ deal and say they want the exact same terms. The lower Wilson can keep Burns’ deal the lower he can keep probably keep Vlasic’s, allowing more room to maneuver under the salary cap to keep the team competitive in future years.

As long as Burns remains unsigned, it’s a story that is bound to follow the Sharks throughout the season – especially with the wooly Burns’ increased popularity both locally and league-wide. DeBoer, though, doesn’t seem apprehensive. He’s been through this before.

“I think that contract status stuff is overblown for guys with [those kind of credentials]. … I don’t think that’s going to play a factor in him showing up at the rink,” DeBoer said. “He knows he’s going to get a contract, he knows he’s going to get paid. I don’t think that’s something he should lose any sleep over, and I wouldn’t expect he would.”

Aaron Dell lifts Sharks to big win vs. Canucks, earns another start


Aaron Dell lifts Sharks to big win vs. Canucks, earns another start

SAN JOSE - The Sharks named Aaron Dell the first star on the evening after they defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 at SAP Center on Saturday. Really, it would have been silly to give that first star to anyone else.

But in San Jose's first win with Bob Boughner behind the bench, the 30-year-old backup netminder didn't just keep the team in front of him in the game. He also earned himself his first back-to-back opportunity of his 2019-20 campaign, with Boughner all but confirming after the win that Dell would get the start over Martin Jones when the Sharks host the Coyotes on Tuesday.

Earlier in the season, Jones might have gotten the nod to start Tuesday's game regardless of how Dell played on Saturday. But this is Boughner's team now. And the interim head coach is going to play whoever the hot hand is.

"This is a competition," Boughner told reporters after San Jose's victory over Vancouver. "Both guys are good goalies."

Despite an up-and-down first few months of the season, Dell came up big in his first start of Boughner's tenure. He had a shutout bid going against the Canucks up until 7:57 in the third period. Sure, he let two goals in late, but he also strung together some highlight reel-worthy stops to stymie Vancouver's mounting offensive push. Dell stopped 33 of 35 shots, improving to 18-6-3 in his career when recording 30 or more saves in a contest. Needless to say, the performance added to Dell's glowing resume against the Canucks, who he holds a 6-1-0 all-time record against.

"He was our best player," Boughner said of Dell. "He made some key saves at key times and kept us in it when we were starting to take on water. That's what a goalie does in a win like that" 

Teammate Timo Meier agreed with his new coach

"Definitely wouldn't have been able to win without him," Meier said. "He was really solid in net. He played great for us. He's definitely a huge part of this win. He kept us in the game."

Although Dell will start San Jose's next game, Jones won't be sitting around waiting around for his next start. No. 31 is expected to get some extra practice time in with newly-appointed goalie coach Evgeni Nabokov, which Boughner sees as a big positive for San Jose's goaltending tandem.

"Jones is going to get a chance to work with Nabby for a few days, which is an advantage for us," Boughner said.

As for Dell's next outing, it's anyone's guess how he will play in a second straight start. He's 2-2-0 lifetime in back-to-back starts and, again, hasn't played consecutive games yet this season. If his next start is anything like his start on Saturday night, however, the Sharks should be in a good position to get another win.

Of course, San Jose's success won't start and end with how Dell plays on Tuesday against Arizona. The Sharks might have gotten into the win column on Saturday, but they still have work to do to improve the game -- mainly when it comes to playing tight defense for a full 60 minutes.

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"It's just one game so we've got to string some (wins) together," Marc-Edouard Vlasic said after Saturday's win. "We played better. We stuck more to our system. Turned (the puck) over too many times, but other than that, we played the way we wanted to."

"It's a start," Meier said. "We know there are still a lot of things we need to clean up, but it's a step in the right direction."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 4-2 win over Canucks


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in skid-busting 4-2 win over Canucks


SAN JOSE - It wasn't the cleanest game, nor was it the most dominant. And boy, did it get dicey there at the end. But heck, it was a victory all the same for the San Jose Sharks.

For the first time in the month of December, Team Teal (16-17-2) put a notch in the win column, holding on late to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday's game at SAP Center.

Still in search of that full 60

Perhaps San Jose's biggest issue in their last game was that they didn't put a full effort on the ice for all three periods, thus not being able to hold onto a one-goal lead with 15 minutes left in the game. While they played significantly better on Saturday against the Canucks (16-13-4), there was still some sag in their defense at points during the second and third periods -- especially late in the third period with the game on the line.

San Jose looked its best during Saturday's game when their defense played extra stingy -- pushing Vancouver's offense to the edges and not giving them enough time to get good shots off. Lucky enough for the Sharks' defense, the guy between the pipes was having a heck of a game.

On that note ...


Maybe it was the slick black goalie pads. Or maybe he was just in the zone. Whatever the reason, Aaron Dell put on quite a solid performance in his first start of the Bob Boughner era. Dell was especially good in the second period when Vancouver made a push and pinned San Jose in their own end. His sprawling split save on a Tanner Pearson wrister toward the end of the second stanza was probably his most notable of the night.

The question now is whether Saturday's game earned Dell a second consecutive start in a row. Boughner appears open to the idea of letting both Dell and Martin Jones duke it out for starts. While Dell's shutout bid was snapped in the third period against the Canucks, he certainly made a case for himself starting another game.

The PK prevailed

Yes, the Sharks still need to tighten up for a full 60 minutes. But one area of their game that came up big was the penalty kill. And against the fourth-best power play in the league, that meant a lot for San Jose.

The kill came up huge in the second half of the third period when Kevin Labanc went to the sin bin and the Sharks were clinging to a 2-1 lead. While it is definitely preferable that the Sharks don't take penalties that late in the game when they've had trouble holding onto leads, at least they were able to get the job done.