Brent Burns: Colorado Avalanche Trade Potential


The Colorado Avalanche need a puck-moving defenseman to partner Erik Johnson on the top pairing. Current San Jose Shark Brent Burns is a puck-moving defenseman, one who even spent a whole season playing forward.

Should the Colorado Avalanche attempt to make a trade for Brent Burns? What they would have to give up for him would be a lot — possibly a prospect and a couple draft picks, possibly center Ryan O’Reilly. However, let’s look at what the Avalanche would get in return.

Versatile Scorer

Hockey Forecaster scouts Burns as a “versatile scorer.” Indeed, last season with the Sharks Burns scored 17 goals and earned a total 60 points — as a defenseman. No one on the Avalanche earned 60 points, not even the forwards. (The closest was Jarome Iginla with 59.)

Part of the reason Burns scores so much is he shoots a ton. He recorded 245 shots on goal last season. That was a perennial problem for the Avs last season — not enough shooting. Captain Gabriel Landeskog recorded the most shots for Colorado, and even he didn’t match Burns with his 214 shots.

Plus, Burns just handles his stick well, especially for such a big guy:

Add to that his known athleticism, and that’s one formidable defenseman.

Intimidation Factor

Brent Burns is a yeti on skates, and it’s not just because of the hair all over his head:

Oct 17, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Brent Burns (88) warms up before the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Sharks 4-3 in the overtime shootout. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, it’s partially because of the hair all over his head — and those crazy teeth. (Imagine the hockey smile potential between him and EJ.) However, Burns is also a very large man, 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. That’s a whole lot of hairy hockey player coming down the ice at opponents.

Burns isn’t huge on hitting. Last season he recorded 148 hits, or 4.5 hits per 60 minutes. Erik Johnson was delivering 4.9 hits per 60 before he went down with his knee injury, which isn’t a huge differential. In fact, the two players are both strong skaters, which adds to their intimidation factor. It’s pretty scary to see a big man moving that fast — and with that much agility.

It’s also frustrating to have said big man stick to your small, speedy forwards like glue.

Brent Burns’ Maturity

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Brent Burns is creeping up on veteran status. At 30, though, he’s still in his prime. He has 11 years’ experience in the NHL, including five campaigns in the playoffs.

A lot has been asked of Burns. He played most of his career as a defenseman. However, during the 2013-14 season, he played right wing. In 69 games, he earned 48 points. He did a little better this year — which shows he’s hardly on the decline. Rather his maturity makes him adaptable.

Down Side

Burns is a right-hand shot, as is Erik Johnson. Conventional hockey wisdom holds that righties pair better with lefties on defense. That’s not a huge detriment, but it would be preferable to find a left-hand shot for Johnson.

Burns occasionally makes too many mistakes at the blueline — such as turning over the puck. Last season his turnover plus/minus ratio was -55 — that’s a lot of turnovers compared to the number of takeaways he recorded.


Head coach Patrick Roy has stated he wants his team to get bigger while staying speedy. Brent Burns is big and speedy.

Except for the righty thing, Brent Burns’ style of hockey would be a great complement to Erik Johnson. They’re both big, fast, puck-moving defensemen. They can both shoot the puck or feed it to the forwards.

Coach Roy has said he believes the team will be built from the draft and from their pool of prospects. However, Johnson is in the prime of his career now, and even Roy acknowledges the Avalanche need improvement on the blueline. Acquiring Brent Burns from San Jose to pair with Johnson would be a crafty move.

Next: Why the Avs Should Court Dustin Byfuglien

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