Joe Thornton’s contract is up at the end of this season. With three days off between games, the mind wanders, and it settled on this dandy of a question: What should the San Jose Sharks pay him to stick around?
The expiring terms on Jumbo’s deal are, well, jumbo. Three years, $21 million with an average cap hit of $7 million a season according to CapGeek.com. While that may seem like a boatload of dough, a quick glance at the cap-hit comparables shows that Thornton might be one of the bigger bargains in the NHL.
Among the players closest to Thornton’s cap hit are Alex Semin, Jason Spezza and Mikko Koivu.
So do the Sharks offer the 34 year-old a similar deal across three seasons, clicking in at $7 million per? At this stage in his career, Thornton is likely more interested in security than money. The man has made more than $63 million throughout his playing days, and might be willing to take on a lower, more team-friendly cap number in exchange for (maybe) a five-year deal.
Seeing him make $6.8 million in the first two seasons, $6 million in the third year and $5.8 million in the final two years seems like a structure that could work. Keep in mind that we’re just tossing some ideas around, but Thornton took a $200,000 pay cut the last time he decided to re-up in San Jose. Would it be surprising to see him to the same thing again?
The days of Thornton as a 100-point guy are gone, but he doesn’t play the kind of game that should dwindle further than the 70-point mark while he’s pushing up 40 toward the end of our proposed deal. He’s a hockey IQ guy, and the body tends to go long before the brain does.
That five year pact would carry Thornton through to the tender age of 39, leaving the Sharks open to offer one- or two-year deals as they saw fit while giving them flexibility to retain Patrick Marleau and maybe even Dan Boyle this year.
Antti Niemi will be the ringer in all of these discussions, at least from management’s standpoint. He’s an absolute steal at $3.8 million a a year right now, and could seek nearly twice that much once he’s a free agent following the 2014-15 season.
What kind of money do you think the Sharks should give to Thornton? Do you think they should retain him at all? Let us know in the comments.