The San Jose Sharks have re-signed center Joe Thornton to a one-year deal, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli. The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reports the deal is for $5MM and carries a no-trade clause. With Thornton now back in the fold, the Sharks still have $13.8MM in projected cap space with just a few restricted free agents left to sign, suggesting the team could still make another move.
The return of the 39-year-old Thornton was never in question, as the team was only waiting to see if they could convince superstar free agent John Tavares to sign with the team. Thornton was already told he would come back regardless of whether the team inked Tavares or not. Kurz adds that he heard from a source that Thornton was willing to take significantly less had the team managed to sign Tavares. He did receive some attention from other teams, but had little interest in leaving the Sharks.
“There were teams calling, but I told my agent-slash-brother, let’s keep it quiet this year,” Thornton said (via Kurz). I want to go back to San Jose.”
However, it so far looks like San Jose had hinged its offseason hopes of Tavares signing with them as the team did not sign any other significant free agents once it learned that Tavares was heading to the Maple Leafs. Although they did extend Evander Kane over a month ago, the team has spent much of its time moving out salary to accommodate a Tavares’ deal. With significant cap room remaining, there could be other moves coming, although the team must still deal with restricted free agents Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney.
After putting up an 82-point season in the 2015-16 season, Thornton’s numbers have been on the decline, which shouldn’t be a surprise at his age. He put up 50 points in 2016-17 and looked to be ready to improve on that last season, but a knee injury limited the veteran center to just 47 games last year (36 points) and he was forced to miss the playoffs.