Joe Thornton registered two goals and six assists during San Jose’s five-game road trip.
Earlier this week, there was a piece asking whether the San Jose Sharks should consider trading the franchise’s best player. While there were some interesting points, there’s no way San Jose can afford to trade Joe Thornton.
For one, his beard is too awesome to be included in any trade, and he is too important to their present and future as Thornton is a catalyst for a Sharks team in the midst of their best stretch of hockey in nearly two years.
With Thornton leading the way, San Jose sits in third place in the Pacific Division, just two points behind Anaheim and only four behind the division-leading Kings. This comes a year after the organization tried to bring him down in every way possible.
The 36-year-old Thornton has bounced back after a slow start by leading San Jose to a likely playoff berth. Despite recording only 15 points through the end of November, Thornton has responded by amassing 15 points in each of the last two months, with three games still to go in February.
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The ageless Thornton continues to perform at a high rate as he is tied with Joe Pavelski for the team-lead with 56 points through 59 games. He has picked up his performance each and every game, with five goals and 10 assists this month, including a four-point night in leading the Sharks past the Blues on Monday night.
As Josh Cooper of Yahoo Sports points out, Thornton leads the NHL with 40 points since the middle of December and has shown no signs of slowing down at all.
This is one of the main reasons why the Sharks cannot trade Thornton. For one, he has a no-trade clause and is unlikely to approve any trade should one materialize, especially since he will have only one more year left on his contract. Why would he approve a trade when if he really wanted to leave San Jose, he could pick his destination next summer.
Also, Thornton is too important a piece in helping to develop the younger players on the Sharks roster as he has been able to set a standard of how to perform night-in and night-out. For example, the best hockey of Tomas Hertl’s career has been as a wing besides Thornton. What better way for Hertl, and other young players such as Chris Tierney and Joonas Donskoi, to learn the intricacies of the NHL game than from a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
Furthermore, Thornton is entrenched in the fabric of this San Jose team as he’s formed a dangerous partnership with Pavelski. The two of them feed off each other perfectly as Pavelski is often the beneficiary of Thornton’s passes.
In summary, the Sharks have re-established themselves in the Western Conference playoff picture thanks in large part to the efforts of Thornton. He’s playing really good hockey for team teal and is motivated to bring a Stanley Cup to the Silicon Valley.
Trading Thornton is not the answer. San Jose is better riding with him and ensuring he has the best pieces around him to make another run this spring.