New York Rangers should consider Joe Thornton on a one-year deal

nhl free agents
Feb 18, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) is greeted by forward Joe Thornton (97) after scoring against Ottawa Senators in the first period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s preface this article with the Rangers should only consider Joe Thornton as an 11th hour acquisition if they make minor or no further moves.

At this moment, the Blueshirts have a projected $8.8 million in cap space with 24 contracts on the books. Anthony Bitetto is expected to play with the Wolf Pack, so that number is around $9.5 million. If you leave some cushion for performance bonuses, the Rangers still have over $7 million in space to improve the team.

If we are to believe Chris Drury telling agents he has no idea why the Rangers have been linked to Jack Eichel, just what are the Rangers going to do with all that space?

Mind you, they don’t need to spend to the cap ceiling either. And I don’t believe the Rangers aren’t interested in Eichel, but at the same time, they are no guarantee to get him.

A late flyer on Joe Thornton

Jumbo Joe still looks like he loves to play the game, and continues to chase his Stanley Cup dreams. In his illustrious 23 year NHL career, Lord Stanley has eluded him every time. He’s still one of the greats, which is not bad for the first overall pick in the 1997 Draft.

Last season, Thornton played on an offensive machine in Toronto. He also dealt with limited travel that helped alleviate stress on his aging body. Playing in 44 games, he notched 20 points. His points per game was almost on par for the previous season with San Jose, but a far cry from his point a game days.

Joe Thornton Rangers
Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Although bringing him in will come at the expense of a younger and more able body for that role. It would make sense only a legit contender would be interested in his services, but the Rangers are an interesting team this offseason.

The moves they’ve made to date scream a directive to make the playoffs. Anyone who has followed this team closely can tell the rebuild is over.

So bringing in a leader like Thornton to help teach this team what it takes to get to the next level has some logic to it.

Does Thornton still want to play?

Thornton is back in Switzerland practicing with HC Davos. When asked about playing next season, Joe seemed a little uncertain.

“This came so sudden, I really haven’t had time to think about it,” Thornton said June 2 after Toronto was eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “First and foremost I have to be a dad for a little bit here. But yeah, I feel really, really healthy and really, really, good … And that’s a good sign.”

Thornton just turned 42 years-old, and will be entering his 24th season. If he were to play a full 82 game season, Joe would be third all-time for NHL games played. He can also move up the list as 32 games brings him to 5th, and 34 games to 4th.

He would also be entering the 2021-22 campaign with 1529 career points. If he could score 51 points, he would surpass Ray Bourque for 11th all-time. Not out of the realm of possibility, but highly unlikely at his current .44 points per game pace.

My bet is Jumbo Joe plays next season. If he would be willing to do a similar deal with the Rangers as he did with Toronto, it makes some sense. Last year he signed on for $700,000 and a full no move clause, it’s something Drury should consider if no other major moves are made.

NHL Rumors

Sharks want Kane out, and more on Rangers and Eichel here.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

Mentioned in this article:

More About: