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The Sharks went into last season's conference finals gravely overmatched on the back end by Chicago and were disposed of in four quick games. This year, they entered the conference finals believing they had enough on the blue line.
They had enough to make it a series this time, as they were one phantom icing call away from a potential Game 6, but they didn't have enough to get past Vancouver, whose D-men dominated the series.
With the addition of Brent Burns, San Jose now has a legitimate top-two blueliner to play alongside the dangerous Dan Boyle, a duo that can almost go toe-to-toe with Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook or Alex Edler-Christian Ehrhoff (or Drew Doughty-Jack Johnson, seeing as the Mike Richards-having-Kings are looking like Cup contenders).
In creating this new top pairing, Douglas Murray gets pushed down to the second pairing, where his defensive style of play will complement own-zone rock Marc-Edouard Vlasic, giving the Sharks a much more effective top four.
With an all-around top pairing and a defensive second pairing, the Sharks should worry primarily about offense with their bottom two, and any combination of Jason Demers, Ian White and Justin Braun should be effective in this role.
Burns transforms the entire blue line and brings so much to this team that was lacking before. He gives the Sharks speed on the back end. He's a guy who can be put out there to generate offense but can also be the shutdown guy. He's the best two-way D-man that San Jose has had in ages.
If Dany Heatley gets his game back, the Sharks will not lose anything on their top line, as Heater will be re-inserted into Seto's spot alongside Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe would then need a new linemate, possibly Joe Pavelski or Torrey Mitchell.
The Sharks' third line would be weakened, but the cap room to add a Chris Drury is there, and a slightly weaker third line as the ultimate price of acquiring Brent Burns is pretty minimal.