The Toronto Maple Leafs have added another veteran center.
The contract is for one year and pays out the league minimum salary of $700,000 USD. Important to note, for salary cap implications, that Thornton’s contract does not contain any performance bonuses that could impact the cap in future years.
Thornton joins a comically deep Leafs team that is now going to be sitting at least two solid NHL players every night.
The signing was first noted by Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) moments after Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted that things were “heating up.”
Toronto Maple Leafs and Joe Thornton
Thornton is currently overseas with HC Davos of the Swiss League. I would expect him to stick around there until shortly before training camp as he gets himself back into game shape (reminder that Thornton hasn’t played since early March).
Obviously, the former San Jose Sharks captain is not the star player he once was, but the stats show that even at 41 years of age, Thornton can still be a dominant player at the bottom of the lineup. Jumbo likely slots in as a fourth-line center, and a playmaking presence on the second power-play unit, there’s nothing to hate about this signing.
He can also fill in on the third-line in the event of injuries, or just to get a fresh face in the lineup. Important to note in all of this is that we still don’t know exactly how the next NHL season is going to operate. The Toronto Maple Leafs could still be playing a hyper-condensed 82-game season where teams are permitted, and expected to utilize, a much larger roster than normal due to the frequency of games.
Also not to be overshadowed in the wake of the utter disaster that was last season- injuries happen in the run of a season, and especially in the playoffs. A championship team’s depth will be tested in the run to Lord Stanley, so more depth never hurt anyone.
This does potentially come with a series of follow up moves, as the Leafs still have to sign Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott.
Here’s a fun fact to close out on: The Leafs now have three former number one overall draft picks. Auston Matthews, #1 in 2016, John Tavares, #1 in 2009, and Joe Thornton, #1 in 1997, the year Matthews was born.