The Future of Joe Thornton With the Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs - Joe Thornton (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Joe Thornton (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs had a legend on the squad last season. When Joe Thornton joined the team, it looked like the perfect match. His hockey future doesn’t appear as certain now as it did a year ago.

Thornton is 42 years old and isn’t close to the player he once was. There wasn’t anyone who believed when he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs that he was a 100 point player anymore, but he did bring value.

Thornton was a leader and veteran voice in the locker room who was also able to contribute five goals and 15 assists in the 44 games he played. Sadly, those may be the only points he ever records with the blue and white.

For years, Thornton has had a relationship with HC Davos of the National League, the top professional league in Switzerland. Last season, he joined the club to stay in shape and continue playing hockey until he landed his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 Toronto Maple Leafs and Joe Thornton’s Future

Last July, Thornton went to Switzerland for training camp and played with Davos. He signed with them in October and played in 12 games. It now appears as though Jumbo is primed for a fourth stint with the team as he has been practicing in Switzerland with them.

Despite Thornton joining Auston Matthews in Justin Beiber’s entourage this summer, with the Leafs having made moves to help solidify their lines, it appears as though there isn’t a spot for the future first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, with Thornton skating overseas, he’s also signaling to NHL teams that he’s not through with the game just yet.

Thornton can still bring  value to an NHL team. There’s no reason to count him out of the league just yet. However, his presence would be best utilized on a young team where he can mentor his teammates and teach them how to be pros. If a player like Josh Ho-Sang had had the opportunity to be taken under Thornton’s wing when he first broke into the league, then perhaps Ho-Sang wouldn’t currently be signed to a PTO but to a full NHL deal.

According to Elite Prospects, the New Jersey Devils currently have the youngest average roster heading into next season. Their average age is 24.88, followed by the Dallas Stars at 25.00, and Ottawa Senators at 25.45. It might be wise of one of these teams to extend an offer to Thornton and gauge his interest but at this point, it looks like he will not be returning to Toronto.

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Jumbo’s run with the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t overly long or memorable for fans but it did prove that there’s a place for him at the top level of the sport as long as he wants to be there.