When it was first reported that the NHL would shift to a divisional, 3-on-3 format for this year's All-Star game, I immediately thought, "I would love to see Brent Burns in a 3-on-3 tournament."
Not only has he been among the NHL's best defensemen offensively this season, he's also an incredibly capable forward, and one of the league's most interesting personalities, which makes him the most obvious candidate to represent the Sharks in Nashville.
He's having a great season offensively.
Simply put, Brent Burns has been one of the best offensive defensemen in the league this year. Looking at the traditional boxcar stats, he's first in goals, eighth in assists, and third in points among defensemen across the league. Since the teams are now divisional, Burns has an even better argument to make the All-Star game, as he ranks first in all three categories among Pacific Division blueliners.
The advanced numbers, too, show that few defensemen are generating more offense than Burns. No defenseman is generating more shots at even strength per 60 minutes than he is. While his even strength points/60 isn't as high as some of his peers, no defensemen scores goals at a higher rate at even strength. In an exhibition tournament that's all about offense, Burns should be a lock.
Plus, he's a pretty good forward, too.
Burns' past experience at forward makes him an even bigger no-brainer to represent the Sharks in Nashville. As a forward, Brent Burns was one of the most dominant in the league, posting a better goals/60 than all but six forwards in the two seasons he played forward.
In a 3-on-3 mini-tournament, that kind of positional flexibility would be hugely beneficial to the Pacific All-Star team, and would allow them to use all kinds of interesting line combinations. Burns playing as the lone defenseman? With Drew Doughty and a forward? As the lone forward? The possibilities are all fun to think about, and fun is the most important part of the All-Star game.
He's the most fun choice.
Burns' aforementioned strength offense and positional flexibility make him the most fun on-ice choice, but from an off-ice perspective, who is more fun than Brent Burns? What other player on the Sharks, let alone in the league, plays Skylanders, has a Harry Potter tattoo, and basically owns a zoo? It'd be a mistake to leave such a colorful personality at home, especially at an event where unique stars tend to steal the show.
Plus, it's not wise to upset a Wookiee, so I suggest a new strategy for All-Star voters and the NHL: let the Wookiee in.