Joe Thornton finds himself in arguably the most interesting position of his 22-year NHL tenure. The San Jose Sharks are not going to make the playoffs, and with the clock ticking towards the end of his career, there's a chance he could make his way to a team with a chance at winning the Stanley Cup considering the trade deadline is approaching. He told Kevin Kurz of the Athletic that the jump to a contender was tempting.
"You know, it is," Thornton said of a trade to a team higher up in the standings. "But it's not like I feel this is my last year. I feel like I'm healthy, I feel like I still have a lot in the tank left. It's not like a last-hurrah-type thing. I feel good, and my mind feels great. It's not like 'Oh, this is going to be my last shot at it.' So that's where my mind is at right now."
It's certainly promising that the Sharks center feels great physically, but the fact of the matter is at 40 years old, and what's left in the tank diminishes exponentially at that age. It's why talk of making the move to a team that could secure him the first championship of his career has been making waves.
Thornton is currently 14th on the all-time points list at 1,503. He's won a Hart Trophy (2006), an Art Ross Trophy (2006), and an Olympic gold medal (2010). This year, he's racked up 25 points through 60 games for an injury-plagued Sharks team. Over the last three years, he's signed one-year deals to stay in San Jose. It's a habit that's been so ingrained into his life that he'd be willing to return to the team even if he did go ring chasing at the deadline.
"There's lots of possibilities," Thornton told the Athletic. "That could be an option. There's lots to play with. It is what it is, and we'll see what happens. I'm a Shark now, and I love being a Shark."
Since getting traded from the Boston Bruins during the 2005-06 season, Thornton has put up 1,049 points in 1,094 games.