The Sharks are still piecing together the final pieces of their roster for 2019-20. One player that head coach Peter DeBoer expects to be part of that mix is UFA center Joe Thornton. He told Sportsnet’s Luke Fox (Twitter link) that he has no doubt that the 40-year-old will be back in the fold next season.
Thornton’s days of being a point-per-game player have come and gone but he was still an effective point-getter for San Jose last season. He played in 73 games, recording 16 goals and 35 assists which was good enough to rank eighth in team scoring. He adjusted pretty well to being on the third line at times, a role he’d likely reprise if he eventually does wind up re-signing with the team.
The big question will be the price tag. The team has a little over $4.6MM in cap room at the moment, per CapFriendly with a couple of forwards needed to fill out their roster. Thornton signed for $5MM for 2018-19 but is coming off of a better season now than he did before. One way they might be able to do to wiggle him in is do something with performance bonuses – that’s what we projected for him while ranking him 18th on our Top 50 UFA list – but there is some risk to that. If he was to meet those bonuses with San Jose finishing close to the Upper Limit, they’d be facing a bonus overage for 2020-21 where they already have $62MM committed to just 11 players which doesn’t give them much flexibility in the first place.
GM Doug Wilson has shown some creativity already this offseason with the Erik Karlsson extension, Timo Meier’s four-year RFA deal that carries an interesting bonus structure and is two-way in the final season, and Kevin Labanc’s surprising one-year, $1MM pact. He’ll need to be creative once again to bring Thornton back into the fold for his 22nd NHL campaign.