San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton played this postseason with a torn MCL and ACL, coach Peter DeBoer said.
The 37-year-old Thornton suffered the injury on April 3 when his knee collided with Vancouver forward Michael Chaput. Thornton then sat out the rest of the NHL regular season and Games 1 and 2 of the first-round against the Edmonton Oilers. He notched two assists and averaged 18:50 of ice-time in four games this postseason. San Jose lost the series against the Oilers in six games. Thornton played over 22 minutes each in Games 5 and 6.
“Basically his knee was floating,” DeBoer said.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Thornton will have surgery later Monday. No timeline on Thornton’s recovery has been announced.
It’s unclear what this means for Thornton’s future in San Jose. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent and there were rumors that he wanted a three-year contract with the Sharks, but the injury could complicate the possibility of a multi-year deal for someone his age. Also, Thornton’s point totals had dropped from 82 a year ago to 50 this season. This was his lowest full season point total since 1998-99.
Despite these production issues, Thornton still proved an excellent puck possession player with a plus-3.02 adjusted 5-on-5 CF% Rel in the regular season and plus-10.63 in the postseason.
Until to this injury, Thornton had been remarkably durable during his NHL career. Following his rookie year, the fewest games he had played in a full season was 66 in 2001-02 with the Boston Bruins. Since Thornton joined the Sharks in 2005-06, he hadn’t played less than 78 games in a non-lockout year.
Thornton’s previous deal was for three years and $20.25 million total.
The Sharks also need to decide how to proceed with longtime forward Patrick Marleau – another UFA this offseason. Marleau’s last deal was for three years and $20 million total.
The 37-year-old Marleau played the postseason with a broken thumb. He scored 27 goals this past season.
“I love those guys,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said about Thornton and Marleau. “They play hard. If you guys only knew what they play through. The respect level that I have for those two guys is just through the roof.”
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