Joe Thornton
Joe Thornton
40-Year-Old CenterC
San Jose Sharks
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Many speculated that Thornton may decide to hang up his skates following the 2018-19 campaign, but he laid those rumors to rest when he re-upped with the Sharks on a one-year, $2 million contract in September. That actually isn't overly surprising, as Jumbo Joe showed he had plenty left in the tank at the ripe age of 39 last year, racking up 16 goals and 51 points while registering a plus-8 rating in 73 games. Now at age 40, Thornton's role will probably be reduced even further this campaign, but he should still be able to post double-digit goals and 40-plus points as a bottom-six forward/power-play specialist, making him a nice depth option in most fantasy formats. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Sharks in September of 2019.
Rakes in helper
CSan Jose Sharks
October 4, 2019
Thornton produced an assist and 10 PIM in Friday's 5-1 loss to the Golden Knights.
Thornton had the secondary helper on Barclay Goodrow's third-period goal, but he also got involved in the fracas after the score. Thornton was one of six players (three Sharks) to earn a 10-minute misconduct. The veteran center figures to anchor the third line again this year. He's now 21 points shy of 1,500 for his career. Given that the 40-year-old produced 51 points in 73 games last season, he should be able to reach that milestone this year.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
For the first half of the 2017-18 campaign it appeared as though Thornton had discovered the fountain of youth, as he was able to rack up at an impressive 13 goals and 36 points in the first 47 games of the season. However, for the second year in a row Jumbo Joe suffered a devastating knee injury, tearing both his ACL and MCL in his right knee, an affliction that kept him sidelined for the rest of campaign, including the playoffs. Thornton will return to San Jose on a one-year, $5 million deal in 2018-19, and it would hardly be surprising to see him hang up his skates after this season. That said, the 39-year-old pivot proved he still has enough left in the tank to contribute last year, and he shouldn't be overlooked in fantasy drafts. Fantasy owners who aren't deterred by Thornton's health concerns could snag a gem in the later rounds of drafts.
After turning the clock back by recording a point per contest during a full 82-game regular season in 2015-16, Thornton tallied just 50 points last year — which was his least productive campaign since 1998-99 when he was 19. Thornton became an unrestricted free agent for a brief period this offseason, but unlike Patrick Marleau, he elected to return to San Jose on a one-year, $8 million deal. Not only will Jumbo Joe be aiming to return to form in 2017-18, but the 38-year-old is currently recovering from tearing both his ACL and MCL just prior to the beginning of the playoffs. That said, Thornton was able to take part in four games after sustaining the injury and is expected to be ready for the upcoming campaign. It’s tough to imagine Thornton returning to a level that’s close to where he'd been for the last 14 or so years, though a No. 2 center that scores around 50 points and averages over three minutes per game on the power play still holds a lot of value in nearly every fantasy format.
With 1341 points and a plus-199 rating to his name in 1367 NHL contests, it's not like Thornton's 82-point, plus-25 showing in 2015-16 was a total shocker, but it was easily his most productive campaign since 2009-10's 89-point effort. Add in that he was 36 years old, however, and the fact that he recorded the second most assists (63), 11th best plus/minus and finished fourth in league scoring becomes that much more eye-popping. Jumbo Joe also had the most productive postseason of his 18-year career, putting up 21 points in 24 playoff games as part of a core consisting of Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns and Logan Couture bursting with firepower that brought Team Teal within two wins of its first Stanley Cup. So what does all that mean heading into this season? Due to his age, it's hard to imagine he'll repeat last year's monster output, but given that Thornton hasn't missed more than four regular-season games in each of the last 10 campaigns, he could very well flirt with 70-plus points again. As long as Pavelski, Couture, Burns and Co. continue to do their thing (especially with the man advantage, where they ranked third in the NHL last year), there's no reason why Thornton can't continue deliver the goods as your No. 1 fantasy center.
Thornton had his captaincy stripped from him before the start of last season, and his exchanges through the media with Sharks GM Doug Wilson had his relationship with the team on thin ice. All that stems from the fact that some season -- some sad, sad season not far off the horizon -- Jumbo Joe will really, truly get old. But every year, his collapse gets prognosticated, and every year, Thornton comes right back and dishes out another gigantic helping of assists. At this point, why would fantasy owners expect anything less? While he dropped off to 65 points last year -- his worst-ever full-season output -- Thornton still led the entire NHL in team-adjusted Corsi, strongly suggesting that the Sharks are still a better team when he's on the ice. As he hits his age-37 season, you'll still have reason to appreciate his presence on your fantasy roster, too.
Much has been made of the supposed decline of Joe Thornton. He's 35 and a veteran of 16 NHL seasons, but tales of his demise are seriously overblown. He probably won't get you 20 goals this season, but that won't stop him from delivering impressive totals. Jumbo Joe's 76 points last season ranked 13th in the league and his 65 assists were second in the NHL. And advanced stats show that there's no reason to think there's a step back coming this year. With admirable advanced stats like Corsi For and Relative Corsi despite getting unfavorable zone starts, Thornton is proving he still has lots of value AND that the Sharks are better with him on the ice. And with the talent in San Jose's top six, Thornton is going to have dangerous weapons on the wings and will continue to produce this season. Expect a mirror of 2013-14 for this season.
Jumbo Joe finished last season with seven goals and 33 assists. He's not passing that point-per-game mark that he used to hit so regularly, but he's far from irrelevant. Thornton is still a leader for the Sharks, but he has evolved his game into a more two-way approach. The team now relies on him to win face offs and check, too, rather than just deliver points. His value is clear -- his 58.5 percent success in the face-off circle put him fourth overall in the NHL last season. His 33 assists still had him tied for 12th overall in the league as well, but his age and the declining number of goals might make him a sneaky pick-up later in the draft than you might expect. Don't sleep on him, though -- the arrival of Brent Burns on his wing could lead to a bit of a renaissance for Jumbo Joe and it's plausible that he could get back to his point-per-game pace with an increased load of assists.
The days of league-leading point totals for Jumbo Joe are long gone. But, he has been able to grow his two-way game in ways that no-one -- maybe not even Thornton himself -- ever imagined. He's great in the faceoff circle and he's the guy they call on most, deep in the Sharks zone, to get them out of trouble. Go figure. Even with this two-way growth in his game, he was still able to lead his squad in scoring, potting 18 goals and setting up 59 others last year. Those 59 assists put him in a three-way tie with Erik Karlsson and Evgeni Malkin for third in the NHL. So, what's in order for this 33-year-old pivot? A repeat of those totals and maybe even a return to the point-per-game plateau. Thornton's not as sexy a pick any more, but that just means he might slip a little further on draft day. And that's totally to your advantage.
The Sharks swam away from the past regular season with six forwards having notched 50 points or more. And while the casual hockey fan could have expected Thornton (21 G, 49 A) to be in that mix, those point totals actually represent the captain's lowest output in six seasons as a Shark. To be fair, the bulky center seemed to have more of his focus on the defensive aspect of the game, as he was tops in the NHL with 114 takeaways. During the playoffs, Thornton morphed back to Jumbo Joe and went on to record three goals and 14 assists in 18 contests, a career-high mark for the skilled passer. He's a safe pick in the early rounds of most fantasy drafts, and should fall within the 70-80 point range with another full schedule on tap.
Drafting Thornton is a luxury in the world of fantasy hockey because you know that you are getting a proven skater who consistently produces across the board, every single year. At 31 years old, Jumbo Joe remains an assist master who has averaged more than 70 helpers over the past five seasons. Of course, if you're Thornton, it never hurts to have fellow Canadian Olympic champs Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley as your linemates. No. 19 is a safe option in all fantasy league formats given his consistency, talented supporting cast and clean medical history.
Thornton's numbers dipped across the board for the third consecutive year with head coach Todd McLellan making a concerted effort of pulling offense away from Jumbo Joe and onto the sticks of the blue line. For the most part, the strategy worked, but you have to think that Thornton will be more involved this season. He has size and strength working to his advantage and is Mr. Reliable in the assist department. With 23 more helpers, he'll have accumulated 600 for his career.
No player was more generous than Thornton in 2007-08 when 67 of his passes went for scores. But Thornton's 96 point-season (29G, 67A) was actually a down year relative to his standards. Former coach Ron Wilson's defensive system is partially to blame for Thornton's slide in offensive production. However, if McLellan can manage a scoring line with far more balance than the '07-08 Sharks had, then Thornton will boast his tremendous strength and vision to the tune of 100+ points. He remains a top-3 fantasy option at the center position.
Jumbo Joe, Big Bird, MVP, regardless of what you call him he's an elite option at center and should come off the board in the first round of most drafts. Thornton finished second in the NHL in points (114), while leading the league in assists (92). His numbers were down from his MVP season when he posted 125 points, -- 96 coming from assists -- in his time between the Boston and San Jose. The Sharks will continue ask Thornton to shoot the puck a bit more, and if he could rack up 300 shots, he could be looking at 30-plus goals this season.
He could never seem to do enough right in his eight years in Boston to satisfy critics, but Thornton did little wrong in his five months with the Sharks last year, bagging league MVP honors along the way. You want scoring, playmaking, physical play, leadership, they all come standard on the Thornton model. From a fantasy standpoint the two caveats are this: Thornton doesn’t back down from many physical challenges, so you worry a little about him holding up for the length of the season, and he’s merely a solid goal scorer, not a dominant one. But if you want Thornton on your fantasy roster in 2006-07, you’re going to need a very early selection, because this is a blue-chipper all the way.
Jumbo Joe's ascension to greatness will continue in 2005-06. He is a dominant power forward with the ability to not only put up points but also to physically and psychologically intimidate his opponents. He still pulls the occasional bone-headed emotional move, but that's easily forgiven given his talent. This franchise center is due to make a jump in offensive output and should form the nucleus of any fantasy squad, dynasty or single-year format.
More Fantasy News
Inks one-year deal with San Jose
CSan Jose Sharks
September 6, 2019
Thornton signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Sharks on Friday.
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Plans to play next season
CSan Jose Sharks
June 18, 2019
Thornton said Tuesday that he plans to play for the Sharks next season, Tom Gulitti of reports.
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Unsure about future
CSan Jose Sharks
May 23, 2019
Thornton has yet to decide if he'll play in 2019-20. However, if he does return, it will only be with San Jose, Greg Wyshynski of reports.
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Erupts for three points
CSan Jose Sharks
May 15, 2019
Thornton scored twice and added a helper and a plus-3 rating in Wednesday's 5-4 overtime win against the Blues in Game 3.
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Snaps six-game point drought
CSan Jose Sharks
May 11, 2019
Thornton collected an assist in Saturday's 6-3 win over the Blues in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
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