After turning the clock back by recording a point per contest during a full 82-game regular season in 2015-16, Joe Thornton tallied just 50 points last year - which was his least productive campaign since 1998-99 when he was 19. Thornton became an unrestricted free agent for a brief period this offseason, but unlike Patrick Marleau, he elected to return to San Jose on a one-year, $8 million deal. Not only will Jumbo Joe be aiming to return to form in 2017-18, but the 38-year-old is currently recovering from tearing both his ACL and MCL just prior to the beginning of the playoffs. That said, Thornton was able to take part in four games after sustaining the injury and is expected to be ready for the upcoming campaign. It's tough to imagine Thornton returning to a level that's close to where he'd been for the last 14 or so years, though a No. 2 center that scores around 50 points and averages over three minutes per game on the power play still holds a lot of value in nearly every fantasy format.
Thornton (knee) told reporters Friday that "I feel 100 percent and ready to compete." Jumbo showed incredible resolve by playing through ACL and MCL injuries in the postseason, and between his ability to tough that out and evidently feeling good at the start of training camp, fantasy owners shouldn't worry too much about all that he's had to overcome from a health standpoint. However, Patrick Marleau -- the Sharks' franchise points leader -- is now with the Maple Leafs, so that'll inevitably add pressure on Thornton to give Team Teal its first Stanley Cup. He signed a one-year extension July 1, so this could be his last hurrah in the Bay Area.
Thornton (knee) will sign a one-year contract to remain with San Jose in 2017-18, Kevin Kurz of NBC Sports California reports. Thornton displayed his dedication to the game and team by playing through a torn ACL and MCL during the 2016-17 playoffs. The club left him unprotected prior to the Vegas expansion draft, thought it was likely a calculated risk given his age and the major knee injury. The 37-year-old's career would seem to be winding down, but he'll play at least one more season with the Sharks. Thornton should retain his spot atop the club's depth chart in 2017-18 if he's healthy by the time the regular season rolls around.
By virtue of being unsigned, Thornton (knee) won't be protected from Wednesday's expansion draft, TSN reports. It's not a huge surprise that the Sharks are willing to roll the dice with Thornton given his age and the fact that he's coming off a major knee injury that included both ACL and MCL tears during the playoffs. He also doesn't have a contract for the 2017-18 season at this point, so Vegas would have to negotiate a new deal with him in the next week to make it an option. Given some of the other options available from San Jose, the Golden Knights will almost certainly pass on him in favor of a younger, healthier body from the Sharks.
Thornton's surgery on his ACL and MCL was deemed successful, and he's expected to be ready for the start of the 2017-18 campaign. Given that Jumbo was able to play through the severe injuries, we can't see that hurting his fantasy stock, especially since the surgery apparently went off without a hitch. However, it's worth noting that Thornton will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, likely signaling a move away from San Jose after 12 seasons. The industrious pivot went from averaging a point per game in 2015-16 down to 50 in 79 games this year. It'll be tough to gauge his value in virtual formats until we see what color sweater he dons next.
Thornton will have surgery Monday to repair a torn ACL and MCL suffered during the playoffs, Darren Dreger of TSN reports. The fact that Thornton was able to skate at all considering the extent of the damage to his knee is remarkable, but garnering a pair of helpers is all the more impressive. The veteran will now shift his focus to the 2017-18 campaign, although it is unclear if he will be ready in time for training camp. Another concern, of course, is whether the 37-year-old will want to continue playing -- assuming the Sharks offer him a new contract.
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