Who should be the Predators’ top target this offseason?

Apr 6, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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DENVER, CO – JANUARY 23: Joe Thornton
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 23: Joe Thornton /

Option #3

Next option: 37 year old center, Joe Thornton. A lifelong NHL bruiser who has racked up almost 1400 career points. Standing tall at 6 foot 4 inches 220 pounds, with a beard that puts Civil War generals to shame, Thornton is currently 22nd on the NHL all time points list. He served as the captain of the San Jose Sharks for four years. Thornton is a brilliant offensive player, however, his play-style is pass first. Only twice in his 20 NHL seasons, has he scored more than 30 goals in a season. In fifteen of his twenty seasons, Thornton has recorded 40+ assists, nine of those seasons with 60+. Furthermore, he’s recorded two 90+ assist seasons. (One of those 90+ seasons was in the Swiss National League during the 2005 NHL Lockout) Bottom line, this guy knows how to set others up.

Off the ice, Thornton brings veteran leadership into the Predators locker room, that might be absent if Mike Fisher retires. On the ice, he brings a physical presence that is hard to match, while also generating an absurd amount of offense. Thornton’s leadership, physicality, and passing ability would be a huge asset to a young Predators team that is full of young, inexperienced talent. His leadership would surely help the development of players such as Kevin Fiala, Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg, and Calle Jarnkrok. His ability to stretch the ice and find open players would be an added boost to an roster with many skilled skaters and scorers.

Like all great players though, there are downsides that makes GM’s nervous. One downside to Thornton is his health. Thornton is coming off of a pretty nasty knee injury where he tore his MCL and ACL. At 37, and MCL and ACL tear would normally end his career. However, Thornton is determined to bounce back and continue playing. After 20 seasons in the NHL, his body could be a ticking time bomb right now.

The other downside is his price. Thornton is an old player by NHL terms, yet he continues to produce great offense. That being said, the Predators would have to pay Thornton between $6-7 million. This is another scary thing for a GM. Not many are willing to pay almost $7 million a year to a 37 year old coming off of an MCL and ACL tear. We’ll see what David Poile thinks though…