SAN JOSE, Calif. - The relationship between San Jose and newly acquired Brent Burns has gotten off to such a good start that the all-star defenceman signed a US$28.8 million, five-year contract extension Monday before even suiting up for the Sharks.
"To have a chance to talk about signing the extension it was a no-brainer for us," Burns said. "We have a little bit of security for our family and I can just concentrate on playing hockey and training and get ready for the year."
The Sharks made the move to acquire Burns from Minnesota during the draft in June, trading a package headlined by talented forward Devin Setoguchi for the big, puck-moving defenceman that San Jose had been seeking.
With Burns having just one year remaining on his contract at the time of the deal, the Sharks were taking a risk giving up Setoguchi, 2010 first-round pick Charlie Coyle and their 2011 first-round pick for what could have been a one-year rental.
"It certainly would have been viewed in our minds differently if it was only a one-year deal," general manager Doug Wilson said. "That's the risk you have to take in this business. You have to go with what you think makes your hockey team better both now and in the future. This type of player doesn't come around that often and there was certainly a risk involved."
But Burns hit it off with some of his new teammates, the organization and the Bay Area when he visited San Jose shortly after the deal and was willing to pass up the chance at free agency after the season by signing the extension with the Sharks.
San Jose now has the 26-year-old Burns under contract through the 2016-17 season, giving both the team and Burns peace of mind.
"I like to take that part out of the business and just worry about playing hockey and doing what I love to do," Burns said. "That's a big part of it. I don't have to worry about that anymore for the next six years. I can just concentrate on winning and being on a great team and being a good teammate. That's important for me."
Burns had 17 goals last season, third among all blue liners. He also had 29 assists, giving the Sharks another proven puck-moving defenceman to go along with veteran All-Star Dan Boyle.
San Jose's lack of depth on the blue line was evident in the conference loss to Vancouver, providing an impetus for this move.
Burns has played 453 career games since joining the Wild as an 18-year-old first-round pick. He has 55 goals and 128 assists in his career, but has not played in the post-season the past three years.
Now he joins a team that has been one of the best in the league the past few seasons, making it to the Western Conference finals the past two seasons.
"There are a lot of great players on the team," Burns said. "Hopefully I can come in and mesh well with all the guys. From the guys I've talked to, I think it will be a really easy transition and hopefully I can help take them to the next level."
The Sharks have been busy this off-season in hopes of making it over the conference final hump. Besides trading for Burns, San Jose dealt Dany Heatley to Minnesota for Martin Havlat, signed forwards Michal Handzus and Andrew Murray, signed defenceman Jim Vandermeer, and lost defencemen Ian White, Niclas Wallin and Kent Huskins, and forwards Ben Eager and Scott Nichol to free agency. Forward Kyle Wellwood is still an unrestricted free agent.
"Getting to the final four the past two years is a very good accomplishment," Wilson said. "But we're always striving to get better. You'll always have changes, that's the nature of this game. You're always looking to add players like this."