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JUMBO JOE THORNTON REPORTEDLY LINKED TO THE MAPLE LEAFS

With teams having addressed their most immediate needs over the first few days of free agency, we are beginning to see a bit of a lull in terms of the overall quantity of deals being made with the remaining free agents on the market.

There are still some notable names out there, such as Mike Hoffman, Evgeni Dadonov, Travis Hamonic, Eric Haula and Anthony Duclair who are all waiting patiently for the right deal to materialize. There are also a few veteran players who have had astonishing careers and would like to sign with a contender for another chance to hoist a Stanley Cup, such as defenseman Zdeno Chara, goaltender Craig Anderson and forward Joe Thornton.

Though there isn't much news out there at the moment surrounding Chara or Anderson, The Athletic's James Mirtle suggests that there might be some mutual interest in a deal between Jumbo Joe and the suddenly aggressive buyers, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

According to Mirtle, the Leafs had pursued Thornton in 2017, prior to signing fellow Shark Patrick Marleau to a three-year deal. Could the Leafs really have renewed interested in a much older Thornton (41) in 2020-21? Mirtle suggests that they just might, but added that discussions are in their "infancy stages".

There's no denying that signing Thornton to a 1-year, league minimum deal is a very low-risk move if you're Kyle Dubas, because you know exactly what you're getting. A 41-year-old veteran, whose best days are long behind him, but who still wants a kick at the can and will accept just about any role to get it. But more than that, Dubas knows he would be getting a true leader with a treasure chest of both regular season and playoff experience, which could prove invaluable to the Leafs' young core.



Aside from Thornton's 1,636 regular season NHL games played, during which the towering center has accumulated an astounding 1,509 career points, Jumbo has also suited up in 179 career postseason games, with a few very deep runs to his credit. So, suffice it to say, this guy absolutely knows what it takes to get to the dance, and that's something the Leafs could use.

Though Thornton is coming off of his worst statistical season to date, with just 31 points through 70 games with the Sharks in 2019-20, he still has a little gas left in the tank and if there's anything we've learned from Jumbo Joe during his spectacular, Hall-of-Fame-worthy career, it's that he leaves absolutely everything he has out on the ice. And how can you not love a guy like that?

MIKE ARMENTI
OCTOBER 13, 2020  (20H56)