The San Jose Sharks will be keeping at least part of its superstar core together as Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have each signed three-year extensions the team announced. Thornton's deal comes in at an annual average of $6.75 million, while Marleau's deal has a $6.66 million annual hit attached to it, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reports.
Both deals, which will kick in next season, represent a slight pay cut for both from their current contracts. Clearly the Sharks are still headed in a positive direction and it looks like that window of competitiveness remains open for a while longer than expected.
“Patrick and Joe continue to perform at an elite level in the National Hockey League and, most importantly, they make the other players around them better,” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. “They both made it very clear that they wanted to stay in San Jose and we were able to agree on contracts that fit with our team building philosophy.”
The two players have been vital to the success of the organization and have been driving forces in yet another strong season in 2013-14. Though both are starting to get up there in age, they remain among the elite offensive players in the game today.
The 34-year-old Thornton remains one of the league's best set-up men. He leads the NHL with 47 assists this year and is seventh in the league with 53 points. Marleau, also 34, has 21 goals and 47 points this season.
The duo went No. 1 and No. 2 overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft with Thornton getting picked by the Boston Bruins and Marleau going second to the Sharks.
Marleau will have a chance to close out his career with the only organization he's ever known. He has played in 1,216 games with San Jose and has posted 908 points over that span.
Thornton, who joined the Sharks in 2005-06 via blockbuster trade, has 1,171 career points in the league including his time in Boston.
Having a pair of veterans who have made many trips to the playoffs and have led the way for the franchise for nearly a decade together is a luxury for the Sharks. This team looks every bit a Stanley Cup contender this year and the future remains bright.
The Sharks now have Marleau, Thornton, Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Marc Edouard Vlasic locked up until at least 2016-17. That's a pretty solid core to build around, especially with rookie sensation Tomas Hertl still have two more years on his cost-effective entry-level contract.
Attention will now turn to Dan Boyle as the veteran defenseman has also been a huge part of the team. His contract expires at the end of this season. He'd be the last piece of the team's core to extend, if the Sharks opt to do so.
It's amazing that the team looked like a seller at the deadline last year, but it was subtle moves made by Wilson that kept the team moving in a positive direction. Now they have the look of a long-term competitive hockey club when it seemed their window was starting to close.
Even thought Thornton and Marleau are getting older, many of the players around them are still approaching their prime years. The Sharks are going to be a handful for years to come it seems.