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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The San Jose Sharks acquired the topflight defenseman they had been seeking, sending a package headlined by forward Devin Setoguchi to the Minnesota Wild for All-Star Brent Burns.
The Sharks paid a steep price to acquire the 26-year-old Burns, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after next season.
“This is a guy that’s not just a puck-moving defenseman,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “He’s a 230-pound guy who can skate. He’s got all the elements.”
They sent a former 30-goal scorer who hasn’t even reached his prime in the 24-year-old Setoguchi, last year’s first-round pick Charlie Coyle and the 28th overall pick in this year’s draft for Burns and a 2012 second-round selection.
After losing in the conference finals the past two seasons, the Sharks hope the addition of Burns helps them get past that hurdle for the first time in franchise history.
“We’re right in, we think, our wheel house, our window with our team,” Wilson said. “Bringing in a guy with his age and his type of game, it complements where our team is at.”
Burns had 17 goals last season, third among all blue liners. He also had 29 assists, giving the Sharks another proven puck-moving defenseman to go along with veteran All-Star Dan Boyle.
San Jose’s lack of depth on the blue line was evident in the conference loss to Vancouver, providing an impetus for this move.
“When you don’t win you make changes. It happens,” coach Todd McLellan said. “Even the Bruins will make changes this year. That’s the way the business is set up. For the past few years we felt that we were maybe not as strong on the blue line as we needed to be when it was all said and done.”
McLellan coached Burns in the AHL during the 2004-05 season and said he believes he will be one of the top defensemen in the league for years to come.
Burns has played 453 career games since joining the Wild as an 18-year-old first-round pick. He has 55 goals and 128 assists in his career.
Setoguchi got dealt a day after signing a $9 million, three-year contract instead of testing the waters as a restricted free agent. He said after reaching that deal that he couldn’t be happier, calling San Jose the best place to play in the NHL. It will no longer be his home.
“You never know when these deals come available, and, believe me, we did not sign Devin to make this deal, we signed Devin because he’s a heck of a hockey player,” Wilson said. “At drafts sometimes things come available. We can’t always dictate the timing of when deals happen.”
Setoguchi overcame a lackluster start last season before finishing with 22 goals and 19 assists in the regular season. He added seven goals and three assists in the playoffs, including overtime goals to beat Los Angeles and Detroit in the first two rounds.
The 24-year-old forward scored 15 goals in his final 33 games, while playing mostly on the top line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
But San Jose had much more depth up front than on defense, leading to this trade.
“There’s no doubt that we’re very fortunate with our scouting staff and our team,” Wilson said. “We’ve got six or seven top-six forwards. We’ve got some good players coming. This type of player doesn’t come along that often and we needed to do our best to get it done.”
Setoguchi has 84 goals in four seasons in the NHL, including a career-high 31 two years ago. He also has 75 assists in 267 games and has one of the best shots on the Sharks.
Coyle was drafted 28th overall a year ago. He had a strong year in college at Boston University this season and was viewed as one of San Jose’s top prospects.
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