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Report: Leafs interested in Sharks captain Thornton

Jun 7, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

Joe Thornton Getty Images

The trade speculation swirling around San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton has taken a turn for the dramatic and that’s all about who he’s being linked to.

Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs have taken a shine to Jumbo Joe and they’re not alone. Zeisberger says at least six teams have taken an interest in the 35-year-old center.

The Leafs reasons for doing so should be obvious as the offensive potential of seeing Thornton at center between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk is enough to make anyone’s eyes pop.

Kessel and van Riemsdyk put up monster numbers this season with Tyler Bozak centering them. Van Riemsdyk had career-highs in goals (30) and points (61). The thought of having Thornton, who was second in the league in assists this season with 65, setting those two up could be enough to tickle GM Dave Nonis into action.

The Maple Leafs are also intriguing for this talk as they’ve got a pair of young players who might be readily available to be moved in defenseman Jake Gardiner and center Nazem Kadri. Both players had great numbers last season as well but may not be agreeable to coach Randy Carlyle’s system.

It’s idle speculation for now but the Sharks appear set to deal Thornton, who has a no-movement clause, and the Maple Leafs are ready to deal with just about anyone to improve the team.

The biggest issue here could be the age discrepancy between Thornton and the Leafs pair who each 23. Giving up youth for experience is a dangerous gamble.

  1. joey4id - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    He would be an excellent choice to wear the C. I’m sure Phaneuf wouldn’t mind stepping down.

    • 19to77 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Wow. Yours is the most hurt of all butts.

    • drewsylvania - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      Best bet is you’ll be the one banned with that strategy.

    • therealjr - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Easy with dropping B’s name. If you say it three times he’s going to appear, ramblings, stupid embedded videos and all.

  2. canucks30 - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    Thornton is old and has a history of disappearing in the playoffs.

    In other words, he’s a prototypical Maple Leaf.

    • joey4id - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Whether it’s SJ or somewhere else it would be interesting to see if he would perform better if they were to reduce his TOI during the regular season.

    • drewsylvania - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      I wouldn’t say he disappears in the playoffs–he’s nearly a point per game in the playoffs since he’s been with the Sharks.

      In fact, the whole team seems to do okay on scoring. Maybe it’s a system or confidence thing.

      • gohawks7 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        His problem is elimination games. When the pressure is on he folds. In the last 6 years, he is 1G 0 A -4 in 6 elimination games. In the last 4 games vs the Kings this year….0/0/-6. In 2011 vs Van 0/0/-2 in the final 2 games. In 2010 vs Chi 0/0/-1 in the final 2 games. He’s a choke….and that is something that does not reverse itself.

    • hosewater2 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      His numbers in the playoffs are overall pretty good, but I agree with you in spirit. Joe Thornton is not a winner, plain and simple.

    • 67nova - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      They’d have to get to the playoffs before they can disappear. The last 9 seasons, they’ve only made it once.

    • skr213 - Jun 7, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      Just getting to the playoffs would be a boom for the Leafs, so it’s somewhat irrelevant how he does in the playoffs.

  3. sixchr - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    That’s a match made in heaven.

  4. travishenryskid - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Would love it as a Sabres fan. Trade your future away for a guy past his prime in a quick fix attempt. The Leafs will continue to spin their wheels, but make minimal progress. They are the Buffalo Bills of the NHL, never bad enough to get a player to change their fortunes, never good enough to care about. The cycle continues.

    • dueman - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Funny thing is that Buffalo always seems to find a way to be just a little bit worse than the Leafs…

      • rabidbillsfan - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        I have an extremely hard time wrapping my head around that statement… Sure, the Leafs have won the cups, but that was well before the Buffalo Sabres even existed. Since then, the Sabres have appeared twice in the cup finals, Multiple Conference finals appearances and a Presidents trophy, along with players winning individual honors. In closing, please, enlighten me on how the Sabres “Always” find a way to be “a little bit worse”. Please don’t throw a waffle at me…

      • travishenryskid - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        And, over the last 20 years, generally owned the Leafs. I guess he meant they finished higher the last 2 seasons. Great accomplishment, considering the Sabres have went into full rebuild – which was really my original point. While the Sabres are going to suffer for a few seasons, they have direction and a plan. They don’t want to be perpetually chasing the final playoff spot. The Leafs, on the other hand, are content treading water and refuse to admit what they are. It brings me joy.

      • beergold - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        A pile of dung is a pile of dung whether it is Buffalo or the Laffs!

        This trade will never happen given Thortons abilility to name the teams. Toronto certainly won’t be one of them if he wants another run for the Cup before he calls it a career.

  5. dueman - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    This is purely media driven speculation since Joe has a No Movement Clause…

    • skr213 - Jun 7, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      It’s a limited no movement. I believe he has to pick 6 teams he’s willing to go to, if the team asks him.

    • gohawks7 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      The no trade clause is only there so he can dictate where he goes. No player wants to play in a city that doesn’t want them. He will no doubt give the OK for a trade to good opportunity.

  6. djshnooks - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    “Taken a shine?” 2 articles in a row? Lol.

  7. phillyphanatic77 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    I can understand people deriding this!potential move (from a leafs perspective)… I mean you’re giving up two kids with plenty of NHL experience and high ceilings for a 35-year old who’s never been able to take his team over the top. He’s not a great skater and that’ll only get worse, in fact his entire game will. But I’d actually do it if I was Nonis. How long has Toronto been searching for a true #1 center? And Joe’s a big one (6’4 220) who’s still about a PPG player.

    It appears as if Gardiner will never be used correctly in Toronto so why keep wasting a gigantic talent? Not to mention he needs a new contract, with about 10 other pretty key Leafs. Nazem Kadri, while clearly a solid talent, is not a #1 center. Certainly top 6, but not THE guy. And is he really best suited in the middle? Plus, he’s gonna need a new deal next season which will probably push $5/per (depending on next season) on a long term deal. Nonis has to worry about retaining important guys like McClement, Bolland, Raymond, Franson, Gardiner (?), and Reimer, plus whatever else he wants in free agency. The Leafs aren’t legitimate contenders as is, but maybe with Thornton and few other additions they could be. I’d ask for the Sharks to throw in a 3rd (maybe 2nd)bc of the youth you’re losing, but they’d be gaining 70+ points per year plus a REAL captain.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 7, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      This seems like such a typical Maple Leafs transaction, trading youth and potential for immediate gratification on a player who’s best days are behind him.

      This isn’t a knock on Thornton he’s still a good player and has been very good for a long time but in trading the two young players for one the Leafs are actually giving up 4 points from last season. Kadri accumulated 50 points and looks like a young player who will become very good once he figures out consistency, one could argue that the Leafs would be a better team by simply moving him up to the number 1 center position. The Leafs aren’t one player away, so making a trade for an aging vet, who would fit in perfectly with a team that’s one piece away, and expecting him to push the team to the top would be a huge mistake.

      Nonis was a bad GM when he was running things in Vancouver and so far in Toronto he looks like he’s learned nothing. In my opinion there are 3 cardinal sins that a GM can make with a team: 1. Giving out inflated contracts to players that don’t deserve them because someone else might, Nonis has done this over and over with Bozak, Phaneuf, Clarkson. 2. Trading youth and potential for aging vets with big contracts, this trade would put a check in that column for Nonis. 3. Trading away draft picks for aging players to try and plug holes and contend now. Nonis hasn’t done this yet but we’ll see at the draft in 3 weeks.

  8. espy70 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    As much as I know the Sharks need to do something, and 2 quality young guys would be great. Jumbo would be a huge loss, even with his elevated Age and inability to get the team to the cup…

  9. luz56 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Watch for Yandle to Calgary for Hudler

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 7, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      I don’t know about that one, Calgary already has 2 versions of Yandle in Giordano (who’s a little older than Yandle) and Brodie (who’s a little younger than Yandle) playing on their top pairing, what they need is a bigger shutdown defenseman to play on the second pairing. Calgary is decent (not great but not bad on D) but their biggest problem is size, they don’t have any and I’m not sure a 6’1 190 pound offensive defenseman fixes that.

      That’s not to say it won’t happen but Hudler is the Flames most dynamic offensive player (that’s tested at the NHL level) right now, he’s a consistent 50 point guy and has a pretty good contract, he’s a definite chip the Flames can trade to fix some of their problems but if they traded him for Yandle they’re trading their best chip to fill a hole that doesn’t really exist.

  10. papajack1259 - Jun 7, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Toronto is close to a cup and Joe would surely help that, he has something in the tank left he just might be the piece Toronto needs. Not a far fetched idea.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:26 PM

      I just don’t see that team being that close to the cup, they finished 9 points out of the playoffs and were -25 in goal differential. Only 4 teams gave up more goals during the season than they did.

      If I were trying to fix this team, and make them a true contender, I would think the biggest bang for their buck would be putting together a package to move up to number 1 to get Ekblad.

    • beergold - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      You will NEVER see a Leaf Cup with Neon and One Way as the franchise (leaders) players!

  11. gohawks7 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    The only way Thornton is going to hoist the cup is if he is a 3rd or 4th line center with limited playing time. He cannot lead a team to a championship.

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