Surely, we jest, but with 15 goals in 40 games so far, the San Jose Sharks superstar defender is on pace to join some very elite company should he score 30 goals or more this season. And with scoring at a premium in today’s defence-first, analytics-dependent NHL game, that is quite a superhuman feat.
In the history of the NHL, defencemen have cracked the 30-goal barrier just 18 times and by just nine different rearguards. They include Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, Dit Clapper, current Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson, Kevin Hatcher, Ray Bourque, Phil Housley, Denis Potvin and fellow current NHLer Mike Green of the Detroit Red Wings.
Green was the latest player to record 30 when he fired 31 during the 2008-09 season, when he was with the Washington Capitals.
Burns’ pace isn’t unprecedented for the 31-year-old, given that he scored 27 last year, the next highest single-season total in goals by a defenceman since Green’s 31.