Joel Dorcas | March 31, 2020
Jumbo Joe, once upon a time, an elite playmaking center who filled the scoresheet regularly, refuses to call it quits. His longing desire to capture the ultimate trophy, the Stanley Cup has put retirement on pause. At the ripe age of 40 years old, 22 seasons deep, the window should be shut on that dream. Not on Joe’s watch, he’s set on playing for at least a few more years. Will the Sharks bother to even offer a contract? Is there a fit for Thornton on a cup contender next year? Let’s take a closer look at the situation for 2005-2006 league MVP and six-time all-star Joe Thornton.
2019-2020 has been a year to forget for the San Jose Sharks, as a result, Thornton has taken a huge hit to point production, just 31 in 70 games. Before this season, although it’s not superstar level, the point output is pretty decent. 51 points in 73 games(’18-’19), 36 points in 47 games(’17-’18). The 2015-2016 season was Thornton’s last big season as he registered 82 pts in 82 games.
With so much wear and tear after all these years it’s not realistic to expect Thornton to produce like he did say 10 years ago, or even five ago for that matter. It isn’t about personal accolades, or about money, it’s about the Cup.
Before we take a look at where might be a good fit for Thornton lets take a look at some advanced stats from this season as we match Thornton up with comparable players at the center position. Thornton registered an expected goals for percentage of 50.66 and a scoring chance for percentage of 51.51. Jason Spezza, xGLF%-52.33/ SCCF%-50.44. Kyle Turris, xGLF%-47.47/ SCCF%-47.74. Eric Staal, xGLF%-52.19/ SCCF%-50.50. Even though Thornton has lost a step or few, the advanced numbers play out better than expected in certain categories.
Teams in need of more depth a the center position; Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs. Thornton’s veteran presence and leadership skills could do wonders. Not many players can match the amount of experience during the Playoffs that Thornton has under his belt. The many lengthy playoff runs of years past have resulted in 133 playoff points in 179 games.
Thornton is making $2M this season and will fetch similar dollar figures in a future deal should a team sign him. This, of course, all becomes secondary as capturing Lord Stanley would be the perfect way to end a remarkable career.
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