Jumbo is on his way to Sunrise. The Florida Panthers have signed Joe Thornton to a one-year contract for the 2021-22 season. The deal is worth the league minimum of $750K. GM Bill Zito released a statement explaining the move.
With more than 1,600 games played in the NHL, Joe will bring a wealth of experience to our locker room and lineup. His drive to succeed is unmistakable and we are thrilled that he chose to sign with our club and that he believes in what we are building here in South Florida.
Thornton, 42, continues his chase for the elusive Stanley Cup with another contender, joining the loaded Panthers forward group as a potential depth option. Last year with the Toronto Maple Leafs the former Hart Trophy winner started on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, but was barely playing by the time the team was eliminated from the postseason. In 44 regular season games, Thornton recorded five goals and 20 points, while he added just one goal in the playoffs.
There are certain things that Thornton can still do well, but overall his game has diminished considerably over the last few years. Even in 2018-19 he recorded 16 goals and 51 points for the San Jose Sharks, totals he has barely matched in the two seasons since combined.
In Florida, he won’t be asked to play top-six minutes given their impressive depth. Even players like Anthony Duclair, Frank Vatrano or Patric Hornqvist might find themselves in the bottom-six depending on how things shake out, meaning there won’t be many minutes left for the grizzled Thornton.
Still, he certainly brings no lack of experience to the table. Thornton sits sixth all-time in games played and could potentially reach third if he plays in the majority of games next season. At some point, things will have to end for the legendary forward, but it’s not just yet.
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