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Devin Setoguchi overcame a lacklustre start last season before finishing with 22 goals and 19 assists. ((Duane Burleson/Associated Press))

The San Jose Sharks acquired the top-flight defenceman they had been seeking, sending a package headlined by forward Devin Setoguchi to the Minnesota Wild for all-star Brent Burns.

The Sharks paid a steep price to acquire the 26-year-old Burns, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

"There's such a shortage of high-end defencemen in this league," general manager Doug Wilson said. "That's why you better move quickly because other people are lined up and involved. There's just not enough good defencemen and centermen around in this league. When they do become available, if you hesitate you don't get them."

They sent a former 30-goal scorer who hasn't even reached his prime in the 24-year-old Setoguchi, last year's first-round pick Charlie Coyle and the 28th overall pick in this year's draft for Burns and a 2012 second-round selection.

After losing in the conference finals the past two seasons, the Sharks hope the addition of Burns helps them get past that hurdle for the first time in franchise history.

"We're right in, we think, our wheel house, our window with our team," Wilson said. "Bringing in a guy with his age and his type of game, it complements where our team is at."

Burns had 17 goals last season, third among all blue liners. He also had 29 assists, giving the Sharks another proven puck-moving defenceman to go along with veteran all-star Dan Boyle.

San Jose's lack of depth on the blue line was evident in the conference loss to Vancouver, providing an impetus for this move.

Blue-line need

"When you don't win you make changes. It happens," coach Todd McLellan said. "Even the Bruins will make changes this year. That's the way the business is set up. For the past few years we felt that we were maybe not as strong on the blue-line as we needed to be when it was all said and done."

McLellan coached Burns in the AHL during the 2004-05 season and said he believes he will be one of the top defencemen in the league for years to come.

Burns has played 453 career games since joining the Wild as an 18-year-old first-round pick. He has 55 goals and 128 assists in his career.

Now he joins a team that has been one of the best in the league the past few seasons.

"To not make the playoffs, it's really hard to look back at your year and feel good about it," Burns said. "To get a chance to play with a great team like San Jose is pretty amazing. I can't wait to get there."

Burns, the Wild's first pick in 2003, was probably their most tradable asset. The Wild have missed the playoffs for three straight years, and general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke of the need to "aggressively" add young players to keep up with the rest of the league.

"We weren't looking to trade Brent Burns, but it came together quickly and in the course of discussing things with Doug Wilson, the pieces came together," Fletcher said after the draft in Minnesota.

Fletcher lauded the addition of Setoguchi, but also was very high on Coyle, who played this past season at Boston University.

"We feel he's one of the top young power forwards in the game," Fletcher said. "We gave up a very important piece in Brent Burns, but our timeframe needs to be stretched back a bit and we need to add more young players. We very quickly assembled a lot of young talent."

San Jose 'the best'

Setoguchi was dealt a day after signing a three-year, $9-million US contract instead of testing the waters as a restricted free agent. He said after reaching that deal that he couldn't be happier, calling San Jose the best place to play in the NHL. It will no longer be his home.

It will no longer be his home in a move that he said took him be surprise.

"It's tough to leave there," Setoguchi said. "I've been there so long and know so many people there. I've grown to love the city and the organization. That will be tough. But you can't expect to be there forever. Now you have to make new friends and start all over."

Setoguchi overcame a lacklustre start last season before finishing with 22 goals and 19 assists in the regular season. He added seven goals and three assists in the playoffs, including overtime goals to beat Los Angeles and Detroit in the first two rounds.

The 24-year-old forward scored 15 goals in his final 33 games, while playing mostly on the top line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

But San Jose had much more depth up front than on defence, leading to this trade.

"There's no doubt that we're very fortunate with our scouting staff and our team," Wilson said. "We've got six or seven top-six forwards. We've got some good players coming. This type of player doesn't come along that often and we needed to do our best to get it done."

Setoguchi has 84 goals in four seasons in the NHL, including a career-high 31 two years ago. He also has 75 assists in 267 games and has one of the best shots on the Sharks.

Coyle was drafted 28th overall a year ago. He had a strong year in college at Boston University this season and was viewed as one of San Jose's top prospects.