Within the last month, rumours have been circulating that Joe Thornton could be coming home to Southern Ontario, and chasing a Stanley Cup dream with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Television personality, and former NHL player, P.J. Stock recently said that Thornton could ‘chase his Stanley Cup dream in his hometown of Toronto’ (paraphrase).
Jumbo Joe, as he is known, is now turning 38 years young and will be looking for a deal that can help him comfortably transition into his retirement years. Nobody would be suggesting that he is searching for a 10 year deal at this point, but if he wants to come to the Maple Leafs, it will be on a contract that makes sense for both sides.
Here is his latest contract numbers via Cap Friendly.
Here is a compilation of his stats since the 2012-13 season until his last year with the Sharks. It is clear that Thornton is limited in his goal production, but look at the assists be puts up each year. One of the best pure set up men in the game over the last decade, who would fit on a wing with him? Do the Leafs have the type of player that could finish and thrive skating beside him for the next two years, or would Lou Lamoriello have to hunt down another player via trade or Free Agency in order for this to make sense?
At 6’4 and 220 pounds, Thornton uses his body and size to protect the puck in the offensive end of the ice. His ability to possess the puck and establish a cycle eventually wears down opposition defence pairings, and all of this would be against weaker competition as it would make sense that Matthews, Kadri will get more minutes and Thornton would fill a third line C role.
So where does that leave often maligned, but always producing, Tyler Bozak? Would Bozak be on his way out if Joe Thornton were to be added to this already high powered Toronto Maple Leafs lineup?
Are the Leafs a better team than last season if the four Centers are Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, Joe Thornton, and Brian Boyle?
Joe Thornton can add maturity, leadership, talent and size to the middle of the ice for the Maple Leafs but at what price tag?
What do you say Leafs fans. Do you add Jumbo Joe Thornton to YOUR hockey team?
1,000 assists Video via Sportsnet.