Fifteen Greatest Minnesota Wild Players: #12 Brent Burns


Brent Burns is the best scoring defenseman in the history of the Minnesota Wild.  His spirit of fun and outstanding scoring touch makes him a franchise great even five years after his departure from the Twin Cities.

One of the most controversial trades in Minnesota Wild history involves the player who comes in on number twelve on our list of the fifteen greatest Wild players.  Brent Burns spent seven seasons in Minnesota and endeared himself to the State of Hockey with his fun loving attitude and strong blueline scoring touch.  His departure after the 2010-11 season to San Jose was a shock to both Burns and the fans, and because of his current monster season with the Sharks makes the trade sting even more.

Taken with the 20th overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft, Brent Burns was a standout forward in the OHL for the Brampton Battalion.  He racked up 40 points (15 goals, 25 asssits) leading to not only his first round selection by the Wild, but his immediate call up for the 2003-04 season.  Burns would appear in 36 games for the Wild, but his role would change to being a full-time defenseman by head coach Jacques Lemaire.

Burns would take to being a defenseman well, as he showed excellent ability to rush into the play from the blueline right away.  The next season Burns would continue his development in the AHL in Houston as the rest of the NHL was locked out that season.  He would score 11 goals in that season with the Aeros, and when the NHL returned the next season Burns would be right back up with the Wild picking up where he left off.

From there Burns would emerge as the best defenseman on the Wild roster with an excellent two-way game.  The Wild thought so much of his offensive abilities that they often would put him on forward lines in different games, to which Burns responded well to.  In his seven seasons with the Wild he scored 55 goals, 128 assists, for 183 points which stands today as the most by any defenseman franchise history in each category.

The Wild faithful loved the flamboyant and flashy Burns style.  Not only was he lighting the lamp a ton, he was showing off his pet snakes and tattoos in interviews.  His suburban St. Paul home has so many pets it’s been nicked named the “Burns Zoo”.  His sense of humor was also a something that made him a hit in the ice, the locker room, and all points in between.

Burns for all of his offensive production was dubbed a defensive liability, and the defense first system of the Wild actual became a hindrance to Burns.  So as result the Wild decided at the 2011 draft to trade Burns to the Sharks for Devin Setogouchi, Charile Coyle, and 2011 first round pick.  The trade came as a shock to Burns, but many had said it was because the Wild were unable and unwilling to meet his future contract demands so it couldn’t have been all too surprising.

We all see that Burns has flourished since joining San Jose.  He’s plugged into a role much like he did in Minnesota playing up tempo offense and filling in at forward.  The difference is the result as Burns has been given more freedom to be creative and push his offensive game to the next level.  Burns has scored 86 goals in five seasons with the Sharks, and all Wild fans can do is say “Why couldn’t we let him do that here?”

Next: Wild Players Shine at World Championship

Still when looking back at Burns’ time in Minnesota everyone can agree it was great.  There’s a good chance that Ryan Suter will pass Burns in all the scoring categories for a defenseman, but he’ll more than likely do it in twice the time it took Burns.  Burns is the gold standard for defenseman scoring for the Wild and more than likely could be for the rest of franchise’s history.