San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Tuesday that forward Brent Burns, who has been out more than a month, could return to the team as soon as Thursday night.
“Could he play Thursday?” Wilson said. “I think he could. I think there’s a chance. … I think he’s really close and it could be as soon as this week. But, that will be decided by him and the medical staff.”
Burns has been out for 13 games since sustaining what has been called an upper-body injury that likely began when he was hit in the face by Ottawa Senators goalie Robyn Lehner on Oct. 12.
Burns hasn’t played since Oct. 19. He had four goals and four assists through the first eight games of the season and the Sharks were 7-0-1.
Without Burns in the lineup, San Jose is 6-3-4.
The 28-year-old converted defenseman traveled with the team during much of its five-game road trip. He came back to California after the Sharks beat the Edmonton Oilers Friday night.
Much like when defenseman Dan Boyle was out earlier this month, the Sharks would rather take their time and make sure that when Burns is back, he’s back for good, rather than risk re-injury with a quick return.
“We’re a better team when [Burns is] back in the lineup and we look forward to it, but we’re not going to do anything stupid that prevents him from being here long term,” Wilson said. He’s too important a player. We think we treat all players that way.”
The difference Burns makes on the ice is substantial. In 34 games since the beginning of last season with Burns on one of the forward lines, San Jose is 23-9-2 and score 3.21 goals a game. With Burns out or playing on the blue line, their record in 35 games is 15-10-10 and the offensive output craters to 2.26 goals a night.