Toronto Maple Leafs: Grading the Joe Thornton signing

(Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports) /

Joe Thornton is coming home to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It’s the dream of every Toronto hockey player to one day play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Joe Thornton gets to live that dream, as he has officially signed a deal with the Maple Leafs.

Thornton will be joining just the third team of his career. He spent the first seven full seasons of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins after being drafted by them in 1998. Fun fact – Thornton was drafted before Auston Matthews was born.

In 2005, Thornton was traded to the San Jose Sharks and he won the Hart Trophy that same season. He has spent the last 14 full seasons with the Sharks. Thornton’s long-time teammate Patrick Marleau joined the Leafs in 2017 before eventually getting bought out and returning to the Sharks last season.

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Contract Details

Thornton has a one-year deal worth $700,000. That’s it. No performance bonuses, nothing fancy. Just a one-year, league minimum salary.

Grading The Thornton Signing

This is a great signing for the Maple Leafs. Thornton is no longer than 90 assist man he was in his prime, but he’s still a reliable center. The Leafs came into this offseason needing more experience and between Simmonds, Jason Spezza, and Wayne Simmonds, Toronto’s bottom-six forward group is suddenly looking good.

Expect Thornton to be either the third line or fourth line center for the Maple Leafs next season. It all depends on how comfortable the Maple Leafs are with Alexander Kerfoot as their third-line center.

A. . Center. Toronto Maple Leafs. JOE THORNTON

At $700,000, there’s no risk at all involved in this contract, which is great for the Leafs. Thornton should give a boost to their 5v5 offense, as well as their second power play unit, which really struggled last season.

Leafs fans should be optimistic about Thornton despite his struggles last season. During the 2019-20 season, his most common linemates were Marcus Sorenson and Kevin Labanc. As recently as the 2018-19 season, Thornton was a very good forward. Perhaps the change in scenery will revive him.

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Even if all Thornton does is play on their fourth line, with Spezza and potentially Simmonds, that’s going to be a pretty darn good fourth line.