Sharks' Brent Burns overcomes the flu, keeps his Norris Trophy stock high

Sharks' Brent Burns overcomes the flu, keeps his Norris Trophy stock high

SAN JOSE – There aren’t too many players out there that can bounce back from having the flu and get on the score sheet. Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is one of the few that can.

“He was laid up all day yesterday and today, and showed up and played I don’t know how many minutes,” Sharks’ bench boss Peter DeBoer said Sunday after No. 88 set up a third-period marker in Team Teal’s 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. “He’s a hard guy to keep off the ice. We went in with the plan of limiting him a little bit but that’s hard to do. He wants to be out there.”

It was just another example of why Burns is at the forefront of the Norris Trophy conversation.

Burns logged 23:20 minutes in Sunday’s contest, second to only fellow defenseman Justin Braun. Halfway through the final period, he squared up and fired a laser shot straight at the net which Melker Karlsson tipped in for a goal. 

For a guy who was battling a flu bug, Burns played like it was just another night at the office – and kept his iron man streak of 455 games going to boot.

With a team-leading 72 points, Burns also continues to outmatch other defensemen across the NHL with a 1.09 points-per-game clip. He’s tallied at least one point in all but eight games since the beginning of January, ranking tenth among all skaters in points since the start of the new year.

Keep in mind, Burns has continued on this pace all carrying a heavy load for an injured blue line. With four of the Sharks’ six regular defensemen being sidelined at different points since the start of the new year, Burns has had to eat up big minutes in half of the games this campaign. As fellow Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson continues to deal with a groin injury that keeps him out of the lineup, the rest of San Jose’s blue line has been tasked with filling that void. Burns, who was logging nearly 30 minutes a game in January when Braun, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Radim Simek were all injured, and he’s continued on a similar pace for nearly a two-month span.

[RELATED: Burns garnering Norris Trophy buzz]

Plus, the season isn’t even done yet. The Sharks have 16 games to go in their regular season campaign and are playing 10 of those games on home ice – where Burns has tallied 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) in a 31-game span. A whopping 13 of those games will be against the Western Conference, which Burns has registered 39 points (seven goals, 32 assists) against. With numbers like that, it doesn’t look like anything can cool off No. 88’s Norris Trophy campaign.

As we learned last weekend, not even something like the flu can hold him back. 

NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer


NHL rumors: Sharks have made Erik Karlsson massive contract offer

The Sharks fell short in their Stanley Cup bid this season, and they now have some serious business to take care of this offseason.

It all starts with the team's pursuit in keeping star defenseman Erik Karlsson. 

The Sharks have been working toward a contract extension for Karlsson, and they reportedly now have made an offer. SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday that "it is believed they’ve [the Sharks] made him an offer that will challenge, if not surpass, Drew Doughty’s extension from last summer."

The L.A. Kings made Doughty the NHL's highest-paid defenseman last summer when they signed him to an eight-year, $88 million contract.

Not only did Friedman report the Sharks already have offered Karlsson, but he believes the team has a serious chance at bringing him back to San Jose for the long term.

"Conversations have intensified, and I think they’ve got a shot," Friedman wrote.

Karlsson had dinner with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Wednesday night in Santa Clara, The Athletic's Kevin Kurz reported. A Facebook user in a Sharks fan group posted a picture with Karlsson and Wilson from the restaurant, and it later surfaced on the Sharks' fan-run subreddit.

The Sharks acquired Karlsson in a blockbuster trade with the Senators on the eve of training camp. He played 53 games in his first year as a Shark and scored 45 points -- three goals and 42 assists.

Karlsson battled injuries all season long, and he clearly was hobbled in the playoffs before missing the Sharks' season-ending loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference final to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. He aggravated his injured groin in Game 4, and played just 10:32 in Game 5.

[RELATED: Inconsistent defense faces uncertain future for Sharks]

While Karlsson’s first go in San Jose didn't go as planned, the Sharks clearly want him to stay in the Bay.

Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones


Sharks organizational review: Goalie situation depends on Martin Jones

SAN JOSE -- There may not have been a Sharks' player who caught more flak from fans this past season than Martin Jones, as the starting goalie battled with consistency this season. Criticism of San Jose's goaltending continued as Jones' backup, Aaron Dell, didn't fare much better overall throughout the regular season. 

Then came the Sharks' 20-game playoff run, where Jones did a complete 180-degree turn after the Sharks went into a 3-1 hole against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round. As if a switch had been flipped, Jones went from being a liability to being a key to getting Team Teal to the Western Conference Final. 

The question now is which version of Martin Jones will be in net for the Sharks next season -- or how San Jose's goaltending contingent, in general, is going to look and match up to the competition in the future.

Sure, wins are what counts at the end of the day and Jones was tied for third in the league with 36 regular season victories in this last campaign. But while his record improved to 36-19-5 over the previous season's 30-22-6, his save percentage dipped from .915 to .896. He also developed a habit of giving up the first goal of the game within the first few minutes of the first period, putting the rest of the team on their heels early into games.  

Nevertheless, it's pretty unlikely Jones is going anywhere. He's entering the second season of a six-year contract extension he signed in 2017, and even before his turnaround performance in the playoffs the team around him never stopped sticking up for him. When Jones struggled, his teammates continued to put their unwavering faith in him and insisted their defensive effort in front of him was to blame. For that faith to continue, however, Jones is going to have to bring some of his strong play from the playoffs into next season.

As for Jones' backup, Dell's future seems a bit more open. Even with two shutouts on the season, No. 30's numbers also took a dip during the 2018-19 campaign and he ended the regular season with a 3.17 goals-against average and .886 save percentage. With just one year left on his current contract, San Jose could potentially use Dell as a trade piece.

[RELATED: What Sharks can learn from Stanley Cup champs]

Neither of San Jose's Barracuda goalies, Antoine Bibeau and Josef Korenar, saw any NHL time this past season. Although there's a possibility both get a look during camp ahead of next season after both posted better than .900 save percentages. Bibeau also already has two NHL games under his belt from when he was part of the Toronto Maple Leafs' organization, going 1-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average. 

The Sharks further added to their goaltending contingent this spring when they signed Zachary Emond to an entry-level contract. Emond, 18, won't be making any appearances at the NHL level this season, although the Sharks have expressed satisfaction with how the sixth-round pick from the 2018 draft is developing. Look for Emond to be a goalie to come up the pipeline for the Sharks, especially if he has another strong season with his junior club.