Sharks trade Brent Burns to Hurricanes

The Wookiee has left the building.

If the San Jose Sharks want to make an impact in free agency, they’re going to need cap space and general manager Mike Grier has cleared out a significant amount this morning, sending veteran defender Brent Burns and forward Lane Pederson to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for forward Steven Lorentz, goaltender Eetu Makiniemi and a conditional 2023 third-round pick.

Burns, 37, has three years remaining on his $8 million per year contract. Per The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, the Sharks will retain 33 percent of Burns’ salary. His contract also includes a modified no-trade clause, which allows him a list of three teams he would accept a trade every July 1, meaning he approved this move to Carolina, and would have to approve further movement. The Dallas Stars are another team who was reportedly in the mix for the defender.

Originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the 2003 NHL Draft, the Sharks acquired Burns in a draft-day trade in 2011, packaged with a second-round pick in exchange for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick. In the 11 seasons since, Burns has played 798 games with the Sharks, totaling 594 points (172 goals, 422 assists). However, having previously played over .80 points per game at his peak, he’s been between .52 and .66 points per game over the last three seasons.

Burns has represented the Sharks at the NHL All-Star Game five times, while being a Norris Trophy finalist three times and winning once (2017).

Pederson, 24, is in the final year of a two-year contract worth $750,000 this season. The young center was acquired by the Sharks in a trade last July for a fourth-round pick in 2024. He split last season between the Sharks and AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, with a largely unimpressive performance. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer.

Trading a player like Burns is about more than clearing cap space, because despite his hefty price tag and defensive blackhole whenever he’s on the ice, he does still put up a fair amount of points. So what did Grier score in return?

Steven Lorentz is an uninspiring 26-year-old forward who is not currently under contract as a restricted free agent. His last contract was a two-year deal with an average annual value of $725,000. Over 112 games in the last two seasons, Lorentz has totaled 10 goals and 11 assists.

Eetu Makiniemi is the more interesting piece. The 24-year-old Finnish goaltender was a fourth-round selection by the Hurricanes at the 2017 draft. In 14 games with the Chicago Wolves last season, he posted an 11-2-1 record, .922 save percentage and 2.06 goals-against average. Not too shabby for a rookie professional season.

The Sharks did not qualify RFA goaltender Zachary Sawchenko, so Makiniemi will slot into the Barracuda line-up and create some real competition in the goaltending pipeline. The organization clearly is struggling to find a franchise netminder, and having as many irons in that proverbial fire not only helps the search, but create excess value in a market that is desperate for quality goaltenders.

Makiniemi is in the final year of a two-year contract that carries a cap hit of $867,500. He’ll be an RFA next summer.