3 Big-Name UFAs the Toronto Maple Leafs Must Avoid Re-Signing

Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
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Joe Thornton, Toronto Maple Leafs
May 25, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton (97)  Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

Joe Thornton

Admittedly, I was among the skeptics when talks of Joe Thornton signing in Toronto started to take over my timeline last year. While I appreciate his storied career and candid personality, it seemed like a stretch to infuse the 41-year-old into a lineup so heavily focused on youth.

However, by the time it was all said and done, I started to come around to the idea. He’s been a leader throughout his career, leaves it all out on the ice, and has consistently proven to see the game better than most. Besides, adding a future Hall of Famer can’t be that bad of an idea, right?

Unfortunately, my initial instincts were proven correct. Despite agreeing to a discounted contract, Thornton’s contributions weren’t really worth the spend. 20 points are the lowest total since his rookie campaign in 1997-98. This was also the first season that he averaged less than 14:00 of ice time since that stat began being collected in 1998-99.

Perhaps his showcase would come in the playoffs, being that the whole point was to add his type of depth for a deep run. Unfortunately, one goal, nine hits, and a minus-3 rating through seven postseason matches isn’t enough to warrant a renewal of his services in this city.

It’s not to say that Thornton can’t still be an effective member of another lineup missing his type of presence. Yet, what has been made clear is that he and Toronto don’t mesh as well as all would have hoped before he put on the blue and white.