Rumors are swirling about Joe Thornton joining the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Would the Toronto Maple Leafs be interested in adding yet another bottom-of-the-lineup option to their team?
In a recent article by James Mirtle of The Athletic, it was mentioned that Joe Thornton and the Leafs have a mutual interest.
Here’s the full quote by Mirtle:
“These talks are in the beginning stages. It sounds like there’s some mutual interest. The Leafs, as they did during free agency in 2017, have let Thornton know he’s wanted. And Thornton is listening, from his offseason home in Switzerland, where he’s been training with a top-league club.”
Hmm, very interesting.
For many years, ‘Jumbo’ Joe has been linked to the Leafs and the possibility of him joining the team has gotten me very excited. Although he’s coming off a terrible season, there’s no reason why he couldn’t bounce-back in Toronto.
At 41-years-old, the durability of Thornton’s career is one of his most impressive feats. Just like his buddy Patrick Marleau, the two of them have played almost every game for the past 15 seasons. I’m not what sure what type of water they’re drinking in San Jose, but I want some of it!
Maybe it’s the sunshine and chill-vibes in San Jose that have made playing into their 40s an easy accomplishment, but whatever it is, Thornton is still chasing a Stanley Cup. And he’s unfortunately not going to win it with the Sharks next year. So although he seems like a player who could still play for another three-to-five years, I doubt he wants to wait it out in San Jose and would prefer to get a crack at a cup somewhere else.
Leafs Should Pursue Jumbo Joe
Despite being with the Sharks since 2005 and coming close to a Stanley Cup championship, it doesn’t seem like Thornton wants to retire there. After last year’s NHL Trade Deadline, it was reported that ‘Jumbo’ was upset about not getting traded to a contending team.
In an article by Sportsnet.ca, here’s what Thornton said about not getting moved:
“It would have been nice to at least have a chance….I wanted a shot, you know? Believe it or not. I’ve been hunting this thing down for 22 years, so I wanted another shot at it. I wanted to get something (for the Sharks) in return. It just didn’t work out. Back to the grind, and that’s how it is.”
The London, ON native grew up only a few hours away from Toronto and with many friends and family in the area, you’d have to think that joining the Leafs would be an exciting proposition for Thornton.
If there’s anyone Thornton trusts more in professional hockey, it’s probably his long-time teammate Marleau, as the two have gone through the grind for so many years in San Jose. Since Marleau already experienced life in Toronto (and seemed to enjoy it), hopefully he’s leaning Thornton into the direction of coming to the Leafs.
If you take away his awful season last year, Thornton is still a 50-point player, who will score double-digit goals, but most importantly be a power-play specialist. His vision and passing ability is still one of the best in the NHL and with age that doesn’t go away. His speed and longevity to play 82 games may be slowing down, but his Hockey IQ will be with him forever.
The Leafs can’t afford to pay him much more than $1M per season, but if they were able to move on from Pierre Engvall, he’d be a great replacement for him for similar money. Paired as the third or fourth line centre, Jason Spezza could move to the wing and Thornton could really help with depth scoring and would be a perfect option the second power-play.
Not only will be provide depth scoring, but his leadership will be huge in the Leafs dressing room. Just like how Marleau turned into the father-figure for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, Thornton could play a similar role. With a burning desire to win, Thornton could be that extra motivating piece to help the Leafs get over the edge.
You can never have too much depth scoring at a cheap price, Thornton would be a great addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs.