The San Jose Sharks went out on a limb on Draft Day 2011 and acquired defenseman Brent Burns from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for winger Devin Setoguchi, top forward prospect Charlie Coyle and their 28th overall draft pick.
Heading into the 2011 NHL Draft, the focus for the Sharks was centered around building for the future.
That is exactly what the Sharks achieved without even owning a first-round pick at the end of the day.
A day prior to the trade, Setoguchi had signed a three-year deal with the Sharks.
Did GM Doug Wilson know he was going to trade Setoguchi the next day?
It is not confirmed.
However, when a star defenseman becomes available, and your team is in dire need of such a player, there is not much time to think.
Wilson took action.
Despite how much the fans loved the home-grown Setoguchi, the team is better today than they were the day they signed him to a three-year deal.
Here are three reasons why the Sharks had a tremendous Draft Day, despite no significant picks.
1. Not much talent at No. 28
If the Sharks had kept the 28th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, the talent level would have been meek at best.
The 28th player taken in the draft was centre Zack Phillips from the QMJHL, and the Sharks would have had their pick of either Phillips, winger Ty Rattie, winger Nicklas Jensen or winger Rickard Rakell, if we are talking best available prospects.
Phillips, the best available player at No. 28, is an 18-year-old playing for arguably the best team in the QMJHL. He has been compared to Patrick Sharp of the NHL, but his speed and play-making abilities need work if he is to make it big for the Minnesota Wild in the future.
The Sharks did not pass up on much here. Phillips was arguably the best player available at that point in the draft, but his ceiling in the NHL may not be that high, although the future will dictate that for him.
The question here is “Was it worth it to pass up on an NHL draft pick like Phillips in order to land an All-Star defenseman?”
In this case, it most certainly was.
2. Devin Setoguchi Was Worth Giving Up
At 24-years old, Setoguchi’s ceiling in the NHL is high.
He has scored over 20 goals in every season he has played and the Sharks were correct in re-signing him the day before the NHL Draft tipped off.
However, trading Setoguchi to Minnesota in exchange for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns was also correct.
The truth is that even though he was a home-grown talent and fan favorite, Setoguchi was overshadowed in the stats department with the Sharks.
With superstars like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, the Sharks were never going to fully tap the scoring potential of Setoguchi in San Jose.
That had to be a main reason for Wilson pulling the trigger on the trade with Minnesota.
At one point this last season, many were calling for Setoguchi’s head after an insignificant first-half of the season. Even around the trade deadline, we were just waiting for the news that the 24-year-old had been traded.
There was too much talent in San Jose for Setoguchi to become what he is poised to be, a scoring threat.
Yes, Setoguchi’s scoring abilities were on display in the 2011 NHL Playoffs, especially with his hat trick in the Detroit series. However, was that just a fluke?
Will we ever see that type of offensive domination from Setoguchi on a regular basis in San Jose?
The truth was we were not, and Wilson knew that.
Setoguchi’s offensive threat in the playoffs probably played a huge role in the completion of this trade.
The Wild gave up their star defenseman, and the Sharks gave up a scorer that is capable of so much more in Minnesota than in San Jose.
3. Brent Burns Is Talented
At 6’5″ and 219 lbs. with good puck-moving ability, Burns can flourish in San Jose.
The Sharks already have a high-powered offense, but add a young and skilled All-Star defenseman to the mix and watch his numbers increase even higher.
The main reason why the Sharks’ trade for the 26-year-old Burns was a success is the fact that San Jose needed a physical blueliner to dominate the boards. Missing that player on the Sharks last season turned out to be a gaping hole in their chances at a Stanley Cup.
Burns is that physical player that fills that gaping hole.
Whether he will be paired up with Marc-Edouard Vlasic or Douglas Murray, that line will get an immediate physical boost in the form of a 6’5″ behemoth.
The Sharks will not be afraid to admit that there are a few downsides to this trade.
San Jose had to give up their top forward prospect Charlie Coyle, who was doing very well for Boston University and was set to be a talent for the Sharks in the future.
Of course, acquiring one of the best defensemen in the NHL does come with a hefty price, and Coyle had to go.
The other downside to this trade is that Burns is prone to concussions, or so his past claims.
Burns suffered concussions in both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, which limited him to just 106 games in those two seasons.
A huge bright-side, and one that was a huge factor in this trade, was that Burns played in 80 games this past season and earned a trip to the 2010-11 All-Star game.
The fact is Burns is the exact player that the Sharks lacked last season.
Although they do lose a legitimate scoring threat, and possible future threat, the Sharks ranked sixth in offense last season. Scoring is in the franchise’s blood.
Burns changes the culture of this team and the overall complexion of a team that will be back to make a new and improved run at the Stanley Cup next season.
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