The Carolina Hurricanes had a VERY busy first day of free agency, making two massive trades to acquire Brent Burns from the Sharks and Max Pacioretty from the Golden Knights. The Brent Burns trade came about after the Hurricanes flipped RFA defenseman Tony DeAngelo to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a 2024 2nd, a 2023 3rd, and a 2022 4th round pick.
On day 1 of free agency, the Carolina Hurricanes sent forward Steven Lorentz, goalie Eetu Makiniemi, and a conditional 2023 3rd round pick in exchange for Brent Burns and forward Lane Pederson with San Jose retaining 33% of Burns’ salary. Brent Burns is a right-handed defenseman with a resume that includes a Norris trophy in 2017 and almost 800 points during his 18-year career.
The trade had mixed reactions, as many wondered how much of an upgrade Brent Burns is over the former Cane Tony DeAngelo. In my opinion, though, Burns will be a better fit for this team than Tony DeAngelo, and apparently, the front office thinks so too.
The biggest critique of Burns I have seen is regarding his defensive ability. For the most part, he is known for not playing defense in general. While yes, his defensive ability leaves a lot to be desired, I don’t think this is any different from DeAngelo’s game. Most analytic models say while Burns is well below average, he is still a step up defensively over DeAngelo.
Brent Burns ranked 3rd in TOI per game last season with an average of 26:09 minutes per game. In San Jose, he was tasked with the toughest assignments, which more than likely hindered his defensive results. In Carolina, he won’t have to be Hercules as he has more support around him who can also tackle some of those harder assignments.
One advantage Burns has is that he is half a foot taller than Tony, which allows him to use his body a lot more while playing defense. One of the biggest problems that fans had with trading DeAngelo was that he was one of our only players who provided a physical presence. The good news is that Burns provides that and more. Brent Burns had more hits and averaged more hits per game than DeAngelo did this past season. Burns has never been one to shy away from using his size to deliver a game-changing hit.
The most enticing thing about Brent Burns is his offense. Although Tony DeAngelo manned the powerplay pretty well to start off the year, that completely fell apart as the season went along, and was especially bad in the playoffs. Burns has shown that he can run a successful powerplay with the right skill around him.
In the Sharks’ prime, from the 2014-15 season to the 2018-19 season, San Jose had the fifth-best powerplay over that time, which was run by Burns. This past season Brent Burns put up 54 points, a feat more impressive considering the Sharks were one of the worst offensive teams in the league. The Sharks ranked 30th in the NHL in goals scored, compared to the Hurricanes who ranked 9th.
One of the biggest differences in Tony and Brent’s game is that while DeAngelo is more of a distributor, Brent Burns is a volume shooter, particularly from the point. Burns’ shot selection resembles that of Dougie Hamilton, and the Canes were sorely missing that at points of this season.
Although yes, Brent Burns is 37 years old, he will still be a force for this team. Burns’ cap hit will be $5.28 million dollars for the next 3 seasons, and I think he will be better than DeAngelo was in this role. The Carolina Hurricanes undoubtedly won day 1 of free agency with their two trades, and I cannot wait to see how the team looks on the ice.