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Maple Leafs, others kick tires on Joe Thornton and his no-move clause

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks
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Apr 26, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) controls the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center at San Jose. The Kings defeated the Sharks 3-0. (Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports)

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson put an “open for business” sign up when he criticized his star players’ performances in blowing a 3-0 lead on the Los Angeles Kings. If changes need to be made, well, there are going to be teams more than willing to help facilitate it. 

With that, we’ve entered the “kicking the tires” phase of the Sharks offseason. The Toronto Sun reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs have put their boots to the Goodyears on center Joe Thornton:

While he turns 35 on July 2, there still is gas left in Thornton’s tank, as evidenced by his 65 assists during the 2013-14 regular season, just three behind NHL leader Sidney Crosby. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Leafs are among at least six NHL teams who have kicked tires concerning Thornton’s availability.

The rest of the piece attempts to build some case, any case as to why Thornton would choose to waive his no-move clause at this point in his career. What if the Sharks strip him of the captaincy?! What if he becomes the first NHL star born within 200 kilometers of Toronto to actually want to come “home” and play in that pressure cooker? You know, being that Thornton is one of the most laid back, thank-god-I-play-in-California guys in the League?

This isn’t to say that the Sharks won’t attempt to trade Thornton, or that there aren’t intriguing fits out there for a player signed through 2017 and making $6.75 million against the cap. (Could you imagine him as a second pivot for the Chicago Blackhawks?)

But should a 35-year-old center really be the focus for the Leafs at this point?

 

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