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After trading Brent Burns, Sharks like the big, buzzsaw winger they got in return

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SAN JOSE – For a few moments on July 13, Steven Lorentz was pumped up to be Brent Burns’ teammate after he saw on social media that Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell had acquired the 2017 Norris Trophy winner from the San Jose Sharks.

Then he heard on television who was going the other way: Goalie Eetu Mäkiniemi, a conditional 2023 third-round draft pick – and himself.

“It was a pretty funny way to get traded,” Lorentz said. “This is the first time I’ve been a part of a different organization, so I was kind of stunned there for a minute.”

Sharks fans will welcome Burns back to SAP Center on Friday in San Jose’s home opener against the Hurricanes. Burns spent 11 often electrifying seasons in teal and is the franchise’s leader among defensemen in nearly every offensive statistical category.

Those same fans, though, are still getting to know Lorentz (pronounced LAWR-ehntz), a 6-foot-4 buzzsaw of a winger now in the team’s top-six forward group just two games into the season.

After the Sharks’ 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators in Prague last Friday, Sharks coach David Quinn moved Oskar Lindblom to the third line and replaced him with Lorentz on the second line with Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc.

The move made a difference as Couture’s line, per Natural Stat Trick, created nine scoring chances during 5-on-5 play, compared to two the night before. Lorentz’s energy and tenacity were on display.

“As a linemate, that’s all you can ask for,” Couture said, “a guy that’s going to work his ass off.”

Lorentz, 26, had just under 16 minutes of ice time last Saturday and assisted on Couture’s second-period goal in the Sharks’ 3-2 loss, and has earned a longer look alongside the team’s captain.

“One of the things I like about him is that he’s got enough skill to complement playing with good players,” Quinn said of Lorentz. “Sometimes players in his situation get away from that and they try to be something that they haven’t been or not. It doesn’t work out the way you want it to.

“He played to his identity. He’s got enough skill to complement skilled players, and I thought he got more relaxed. He was probably a little tight but as the game went on, he was an impactful player for me. That line was good.”

Lorentz was drafted in the seventh round by the Hurricanes in 2015. After he turned pro in 2017, Lorentz spent three full seasons in the minors, including two from 2018 to 2020 with the Charlotte Checkers when he was coached by current Sharks’ assistant Ryan Warsofsky.

Carolina Hurricanes' Steven Lorentz (78) is congratulated on his goal by teammate Martin Necas (88) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Carolina Hurricanes’ Steven Lorentz (78) is congratulated on his goal by teammate Martin Necas (88) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, April 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) 

Lorentz broke through to the NHL on a full-time basis in the pandemic-shortened season of 2020-2021, playing in 45 of 56 regular season games and all 11 playoff games for the Hurricanes.

Lorentz had 13 points in 67 games last season as he averaged just under 11 minutes of ice time per game.

For now, it appears he might be ready for a bigger role, as Lorentz seems to be the ideal player for Quinn’s aggressive 2-1-2 forechecking system, similar to what Brind’Amour runs with the Hurricanes.

“I think the play the right way. It’s honest hockey and it’s in your face and aggressive,” Lorentz said of the Hurricanes. “I think that’s what (Sharks) management wanted (too). Obviously a lot of fresh faces around here this season, but all guys that kind of play that hard-nosed game.”

INJURY UPDATE: Winger Alexander Barabanov continued to progress from an upper-body injury as he was involved in contact drills in Wednesday’s full-team practice.

“I thought he had a good day,” Quinn said of Barabanov.

Barabanov hasn’t been ruled out for Friday’s game but needs to feel good after Thursday’s and Friday’s morning skate.

“I’ll have to talk to the trainers to see how he feels,” Quinn said. “He truly is day-to-day.”

ON WAIVERS: Defenseman Scott Harrington, who came to San Jose on a professional tryout agreement and signed a one-year contract on Sept. 30, was placed on waivers Wednesday. Assuming he clears, he will be assigned to the Barracuda.

The transaction might be salary cap-related, as the Sharks right now only have six other healthy defensemen. If Harrington stays with the Sharks organization, he could be called up before Friday’s game as insurance should another defenseman get hurt.