Wikipedia claims the shark has been in existence for over 420 million years, and it is suggested that the species has remained relatively unchanged for the past 100 millions or so.
Evolution, it seems, achieved perfection a long time ago when it comes to the superoder Selachimorpha.
But the San Jose Sharks must keep evolving until they win the Stanley Cup for the first time, and it starts now.
The team moved 24-year old forward Devin Setoguchi to the Minnesota Wild yesterday in a trade that netted big defenseman Brent Burns. San Jose had just re-signed Setoguchi to a three-year, $9M contract.
Burns will be an unrestricted free agent next spring, and the Sharks had to give up a lot more than Setoguchi to get him: they also traded 2010 first-round pick Charlie Coyle and this year’s first-round pick, while receiving Minnesota’s second-round pick in 2012 in return.
That’s a huge price for a player who may end up staying only one season in San Jose.
Only time will tell if this was a good trade for the Sharks or not, but it does signify the team is focused on shoring up the weakness that cost it the most during the regular season and the playoffs: a weak third-period defense.
The 26-year old Burns is listed at 6-foot-5, 224 pounds, and that kind of enduring presence on the blue line should strengthen the Sharks at the end of games when they’re trying to close out a lead.
While Setoguchi scored 31 goals in his first full National Hockey League season (2008-09), he netted “only” 20 and 22 pucks in the last two seasons, respectively. Clearly, the team felt he was expendable in the search for more defense.
Combined with his declining impact on the offensive side of the ledger, the Sharks probably also looked to Seto’s minus-two rating the past two seasons combined (over 144 games) as a sign their young forward might not fit into their plans for the upcoming year and beyond.
Setoguchi posted a plus-22 rating in his first 125 games in the NHL, so the team clearly felt he was not committed to two-play like he had been earlier in his young career.
Again, it’s a big risk, but if Burns can produce the way he has for the Wild on both sides of the sheet, the Sharks might be able to find a way to secure those extra few wins that have kept them from the Cup finals the past two postseasons.
Minnesota missed the playoffs each of the past three years, but Burns probably wasn’t the reason. After posting 43 points and a plus-12 rating for the Wild’s last playoff team in 2007-08, the big defenseman was hurt in the following two seasons.
Last year, Burns returned to form with 46 points in 80 games for a team that finished 11th in the Western Conference, 11 points out of the final playoff slot.
The new acquisition immediately joins the Sharks’ top defensive line, joining Dan Boyle. Marc-Edoard Vlasic will move down to the second line with Douglas Murray, another big blueliner.
Ian White, acquired midseason last year, is eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, but he has expressed a desire to stay in San Jose after being traded three times in the past 13 months.