Rangers interested in Thornton, but is the feeling mutual?

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The NHL free agent signing period starts this Saturday, and teams have already been talking about potential candidates. There have been rumors circulating about UFA Joe Thornton potentially leaving his home. It’s still possible that Thornton will return to San Jose, but the Sharks have opened the door to his potential exit, allowing him to talk to other teams. Based off of the usual buzzing Twitter rumors, it seems as if there is a lot of interest in Joe Thornton.

His numbers were down last season, but Thornton still had 43 assists and 50 points in 79 games. He is a solid two-way centerman, and with the departures of Derek Stepan and Oscar Lindberg, the New York Rangers are in dire need of a solid center. He has proven himself in the playoffs and is good in the faceoff circle. Thornton is also coming off of surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL. Regardless, he has a ton of experience and can still serve as an elite playmaker and leader. The 37-year-old wants a three-year contract wherever he goes, but he will most likely take a lesser deal considering his age and decline last season.

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The last time the Blueshirts signed a player as old as Thornton was his former teammate Dan Boyle. However, it didn’t really work out well in the Rangers favor. They agreed to a two-year deal and it ended up being way too much for the Rangers. New York could be a potential signing for the Sharks’ veteran if he considers only a one year deal.

Yes, the Rangers need an elite center and Joe Thornton is an experienced player that can help in that category. However, there is one more reason the San Jose Shark could find himself in the big apple. That reason is Rick Nash.

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The two buddies have had a lot of success together representing their country on the world stage. Their most notable time together was when they both helped lead Canada to a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Larry Brooks writes it’s unknown whether the San Jose Sharks center is willing to come to New York and reunite with his Canadian teammate, but it is still a possibility Rangers fans will be keeping in mind.

Editor’s note: Fulltilt has learned that the Rangers have already reached out to Joe Thornton on possibly coming to NY. Teams are allowed to talk to pending free agents but are prohibited to discuss terms. Montreal and Nashville are also very interested in Thornton’s services. -Anthony