Sharks News & Rumors: Burns, Free Agency, Balcers & More

In this edition of San Jose News & Rumors, Brent Burns‘ 11-year tenure with the organization has come to an end as he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week. In other news, newly hired general manager (GM) Mike Grier has brought in several new faces in recent days via free agency. Meanwhile, he also chose to buy out the contract of forward Rudolfs Balcers.

Burns Traded to the Hurricanes

Once the Sharks’ 2021-22 season came to an end, there was some speculation that Burns may get moved after he admitted he would like to win a Stanley Cup before his career was said and done. Given that this is a team who likely won’t be a contender for some time, moving the 37-year-old made plenty of sense, and Grier did just that.

Brent Burns San Jose Sharks
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The new Sharks GM sent Burns, along with Lane Pederson, to the Hurricanes in exchange for Steven Lorentz, Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional 2023 third-round pick. The Sharks also agreed to retain 33 percent of Burns’ $8 million deal, which still has three years remaining.

While there is no denying Burns’ play has slowed down somewhat in recent years, he still managed a very respectable 10 goals and 54 points in 82 games last season. Though he was never able to help lead the Sharks to a Stanley Cup, he had several fantastic years with them, perhaps none better than the 2016-17 campaign in which he recorded 29 goals and 76 points that earned him the Norris Trophy. He played a total of 798 games with the Sharks, and his 594 points over that span are not only first by a defenceman in franchise history but fifth overall.

Pederson, on the other hand, is an undrafted 24-year-old forward who appeared in 29 games with the Sharks last season. While he has shown the ability to put up points in the American Hockey League, he has struggled to translate that to the NHL level. Perhaps the change of scenery will allow him to do that.

Sharks Sign Several Free Agents

With free agency having begun on July 13, the Sharks, along with many other teams around the league, got to work. To this point, they have brought in names like Oskar Lindblom, Nico Sturm, Markus Nutivaara and Matt Benning as they look to take a step in the right direction for the 2022-23 season.

Lindblom, 25, is a feel-good story after having missed plenty of time in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons due to Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Despite the Philadelphia Flyers buying him out recently, he has shown the ability to be a solid depth scorer through his 263 career games. In 79 games this past season, he scored 12 goals and 26 points. He joins the Sharks on a two-year deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $2.5 million.

Oskar Lindblom Philadelphia Flyers
Oskar Lindblom, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Sturm, 27, comes in fresh off of a Stanley Cup victory with the Colorado Avalanche, who acquired him near the trade deadline from the Minnesota Wild. In a combined 74 games last season, he scored nine goals and 20 points while also chipping in with two assists in 13 playoff outings. He will come in on a three-year deal with an AAV of $2 million.

Related: Hurricanes Acquire Brent Burns from Sharks

Nutivaara, 28, is a Finnish defenceman who will have a ton to prove after being limited to just one game this past season with the Florida Panthers due to injury. In the 2020-21 campaign, he suited up for 30 games, notching five assists while averaging just under 16 minutes in ice time per contest. He and the Sharks agreed to a one-year deal that has a cap hit of $1.5 million.

Last but not least is Benning. The 28-year-old defenceman agreed to a four-year deal with the Sharks with a very inexpensive AAV of $1.25 million. In 65 games with the Nashville Predators last season, he tallied 11 assists while averaging 16:20 in ice time.

Balcers Bought Out

Just one day before free agency, Grier announced that his club was buying out Balcers’ contract. This decision came as somewhat of a surprise given that the 25-year-old had just one year remaining on his deal with a cap hit of just $1.55 million. Nevertheless, the move will give the Sharks an extra $1.45 million in cap space to work with this offseason.

Rudolfs Balcers San Jose Sharks
Rudolfs Balcers, San Jose Sharks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Balcers, who was selected by the Sharks in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, appeared in 61 games this past season, registering 11 goals and 23 points. It didn’t take him long to find a new home, as he has since agreed on a one-year deal with the Panthers that will pay him $750,000.

Looking Ahead for the Sharks

With the majority of big names in free agency now off the board, there probably won’t be any big Sharks news for the next few months. With that said, there were some whispers of Erik Karlsson being a player on the move before the 2022-23 campaign. Whether or not Burns getting traded changes that plan remains to be seen, but it is a situation worth monitoring throughout the summer.

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