SAN JOSE — Brent Burns will pick up where he left off next season, staying at power forward rather than returning to his previous role as a defenseman.

The Sharks had hedged on which position Burns would play in 2013-14, but General Manager Doug Wilson said Friday that he and coach Todd McLellan want Burns back at right wing where he scored nine goals and 11 assists in 24 regular season games, then added two goals and two assists in the playoffs on a line with Joe Thornton.

"How we want to play up front -- go after people and make them defend, Burnzie just fits perfect," Wilson said. "He still will be able to play the point on the power play and we can utilize his big shot, but I think we saw how good he could be and how he could impact games at a forward."

The Sharks' depth on defense also was a factor in the decision, Wilson said.

Injuries limited Burns to 30 games last season, and he struggled when trying to return to play as a defenseman. McLellan, who worked with Burns in the minors while the two were in the Minnesota Wild organization, knew that Burns had experience as a forward, and moved him into that role in mid-March. The experiment was an immediate success.

"I think it's only going to get better," Wilson said. "He'll train specifically for that this summer, giving him that clarity and focus. I think he is a dominant power forward in this league."

The general manager added that "doesn't limit what we may do in the future with him, but this coming year, that's what we've pegged him in for."


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Burns said at the end of the season he didn't care where the team wanted him to play as long as he had adequate notice so that he could train accordingly.

It's not a common move, especially with a high-end player. The most-recent case was Dustin Byfuglien, then with Chicago, now with Winnipeg.

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.