The place will Joe Thornton play when the subsequent NHL season will get underway has been one of many greatest questions of the 2020 offseason.
Now we all know. “Jumbo Joe” is heading to Toronto. On Friday, the 41-year-old heart signed a one-year, $700,000 contract to affix the Maple Leafs.
It has been a long-rumored transfer and it picked up steam over the previous few days.
“My understanding is each Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe have talked to Joe Thornton in regards to the Leafs’ curiosity in him, and so I believe it is real,” TSN’s Pierre LeBrun not too long ago informed Andi Petrillo and Craig Button Wednesday on TSN Radio 1050’s “Leafs Lunch.”
“The Leafs did strategy him in 2017,” LeBrun added. “And on the time they had been making an attempt to signal each Thornton and Marleau. However what’s attention-grabbing is at the moment that was a Mike Babcock-Lou Lamoriello challenge. . . . This time round it is Dubas and Keefe.”
After all, Thornton had been a Shark longer than his beard can develop — 15 seasons — however he has now minimize ties along with his residence since 2005. Again in February, he expressed his disappointment at not being moved to a Stanley Cup contender on the deadline — like his buddy Patrick Marleau was to the Penguins.
“I wished a shot, you already know? Consider it or not. I’ve been looking this factor down for 22 years, so I wished one other shot at it,” he said the next day, per The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz. “I wished to get one thing (for the Sharks) in return. It simply didn’t work out. Again to the grind, and that’s how it’s.”
Marleau re-signed with the Sharks on Tuesday. On Thursday, because the smoke started to construct across the rumors, Thornton told Tages-Anzeiger, a Swiss German-language newspaper: “I can nonetheless return there, it is all open.”
“I have been watching this, all of the ‘buzz,’ the questions on what is going on to occur to me,” Thornton added. “The will to proceed taking part in [in the NHL] is there. I will put together myself nicely for it right here in Switzerland.”
Properly, because the Sharks rebuild, “Jumbo” is now heading to a Stanley Cup contender and a lineup that features fellow No. 1 general picks Auston Matthews (2016, Maple Leafs) and staff captain John Tavares (2009, Islanders). Thornton was picked No. 1 by the Bruins in 1997.
However is the transfer east — and a couple of two-hour automobile experience from the place he grew up in St. Thomas, Ont. — the best one? Properly, the Leafs might use him. Keefe’s squad severely underperformed within the qualifying spherical and could not rebound when trailing in video games — one game notwithstanding. Having Thornton, who has been on deep playoff runs, together with a Cup Last, and is a loud, vocal presence within the locker room and on the bench, might simply be what the staff must rebound in tight video games.
Additionally they want a third-line heart. With their personnel for the time being, Alex Kerfoot is slotted in at that place, and whereas he did an admirable job within the postseason sandwiched between Kasperi Kapanen (who has since been traded) and both Ilya Mikheyev or teen Nick Robertson, Thornton could be an improve. Andreas Johnsson, who skated with Kerfoot and Kapanen through the season however missed the bubble with a knee harm, was traded to the Devils. The Leafs additionally minimize ties with Frederik Gauthier, who interchanged with Spezza on the fourth line.
Thornton solely collected 31 factors in 70 video games through the 2019-20 truncated season, however the earlier 12 months he had 51 in 73. His linemates of Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorenson additionally confirmed a scarcity of manufacturing, however once you take a look at 5v5, they really had a 55.40 % Corsi For and a 55.26 % Scoring Probabilities For (per Natural Stat Trick). It ought to be famous that Thornton can also be a key power-play man and his insertion into the unit would undoubtedly not harm an already highly effective power-play group.
In 1,636 profession NHL regular-season video games between the Bruins and Sharks, Thornton notched 1,509 factors (420 targets, 1,089 assists) whereas including 133 factors (31 targets, 102 assists) in 179 playoff video games. A six-time All-Star, he captured each the Artwork Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy in 2006.
Till the subsequent season will get underway, Thornton will hit the ice in the Swiss Alps.
The legend, as HC Davos known as him when it introduced his return on social media this week, returns to the staff for his third stint. He performed for the Swiss squad in 2004-05 when the NHL was in a lockout and in 2012-13 for a brief stint earlier than the shortened season began after one other labor dispute. Thornton met his spouse, Tabea, in Switzerland throughout his first tenure and so they return throughout offseasons.
In 73 video games he has racked up 90 factors (22 targets, 68 assists) and helped lead the membership to the league’s championship and the Spengler Cup. Throughout that 2004-05 season, he teamed up with fellow NHLers Rick Nash and Niklas Hagman. He’s anticipated to play in HC Davos’ sport on Saturday.