He is one of the most recognizable faces in the NHL. He strikes fear into the hearts of opposing teams, rivaling fans and anyone else rooting against him. He is one of the best personalities this game has to offer. Ladies and gentleman, I give you ‘The Amazing Brent Burns!’
The Past 5 Seasons
Since the 2013 lockout-shortened season, Burns has been grooving, cementing himself as one of the best blueliners in the league today. Burns is first among defenceman in goals and second, only to Erik Karlsson, in points over this stretch. Burns’ stat line over these five seasons (which includes this season) is incredible:
Burns: 321 GP, 100 G, 164 A, 264 PTS, +32, 24 PPG, 200 PIM, 1155 Shots, 22:22 TOI/Game
- Burns ranks first among defenseman in Goals and Shots, indicating he is the driver of offense from the back-end. Both of his coaches in San Jose (previously Todd McLellan and currently Peter DeBore) have given 88 the green light to jump into the play regularly.
- Only 24% of his goals have come on the Powerplay, yet he is still ranked fifth among defenseman in this category. Shea Weber (44 Powerplay Goals; 55% of Goals on the PP), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (37 PPGs; 51.4%), Kevin Shattenkirk (26 PPGs; 54.2%) and Justin Faulk (25 PPGs; 48.1%) are the four names ahead of the Sharks rearguard.
- The aforementioned players rely heavily on the man-advantage to produce their goal scoring totals. They’re PP specialists and are rightfully among the league’s best D-men. However, Burns’ numbers don’t correlate with theirs; the Canadian produces more at even strength than any other defenseman over this span (bests 2nd place Erik Karlsson’s by 19 goals).
- Over these five seasons, Burns ranks 43rd among D-men in average Time on Ice. Burns is among the most efficient players in the NHL (more on this later).
- Among active defenseman, Burns’ 484 career points ranks sixth in scoring. He is the youngest player (31 years old) within these top-6 scorers.
The bearded wonder finds himself in the Hart Trophy race among the league’s Most Valuable Players. I wrote an article last week touching on the two-horse race between Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid for the Hart; it’s safe to say that Burns has entered that conversation as well.
Burns’ stat line for this season is as follows:
Burns: 58 GP, 25 G, 36 A, 61 PTS, +20, 6 PPG, 28 PIM, 231 Shots, 24:57 TOI/Game
- Third overall in NHL scoring this season with 61 points. He finds himself tenth in goals and fifth in assists.
- One of San Jose’s on-ice leaders also finds himself leading the league in shots. Yes, shots! As a defenseman! Burns is also scoring at a very impressive 10.8 shot percentage this season. Sure, this number is expected to decline during the second half of the season, but with the number of shots he is producing, this expected change will not affect his numbers significantly.
- There are only nine skaters (with a minimum of 20 games) that are scoring above a 1.00 Points/Game clip. Burns’ 1.05 Points/Game ranks fifth in this regard.
While the surface numbers above are certainly impressive, the underlying numbers suggest Burns’ impact is bigger than we think.
- The San Jose rearguard has been on the ice for 53.21% of his team’s goals this season. Simply put, the Sharks score when 88 is on the ice*.
- Burns is on the ice 37.81% of the time during Sharks games this season; this 15.4% margin (compared to the first bullet) is incredible. The large gap between the two numbers indicates Burns’ efficiency is among the best in the big leagues*.
*Stats courtesy of puckalytics.com
- While his Corsi For % isn’t outstanding, the 52.57% still marks favourably for the Barrie, Ontario native. However, Burns’ Corsi For (1146) leads the league in this department (via NHL.com).
- To break it down: There is a total of 2180 Shot Attempts (from both the San Jose Sharks and opposing teams) while Burns is on the ice. Of this total number, the Sharks account for 1146 of them. Thus, 1146 divided by 2180 gives us a Corsi For % of 52.57%.
- According to NHL.com, Burns’ Corsi Behind (+79) and Corsi Close (+111) indicates that Burns plays his best hockey when his team needs him most.
- To break it down: Corsi can also be reflected as positive and negative numbers. A Corsi of +79 indicates that Burns is on the ice for 79 more Shot Attempts For vs. Shot Attempts Against.
- Corsi Behind is only measured when the Sharks are behind on the scoreboard during play.
- Corsi Close is only measured when the Sharks are ahead/behind one goal or tied in the Third Period.
The Hart? Ted Lindsay?
Certainly, it appears that Brent Burns is on his way to winning his first Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman. He leads the Sharks in scoring and is a big reason why they sit atop of the Pacific Division with a 34-18-6 record.
But what do you think?
Will he have enough traction to win the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player?
Do you think he will steal the Ted Lindsay award (the best player voted amongst his peers) away from Sidney Crosby by season’s end?
Leave your comments in the comments section below or tweet me at @TonyBrar_!