Joe Thornton appears eager to sign a contract extension with the San Jose Sharks

thorntonfightsforpuck.jpgThe last two years, I’ve scrounged enough money together to take a hockey-themed summer trip to California. Each time I return to the horrifying, scolding-hot climates of Texas, it’s like getting slapped awake from a glorious dream.

So it’s difficult to even bat an eye at the fact that Joe Thornton is very happy with his life and career in San Jose, something he’d like to continue with a contract extension. Here is more from the Mercury News.

When it comes to the South Bay, Thornton sounds like a man ready to sign a lifetime contract. He and wife Tabea are building a new home in the Los Gatos-Saratoga area. He has a farmhouse in St. Thomas, Ontario, where he grew up, and the couple has an apartment in Tabea’s native Switzerland.

But, he added, “This is where the Thornton family has put down roots.”

And the family has grown with the birth of its first child, daughter Ayla, on July 14.

“He just loves it there,” said John Thornton, his brother and agent. “I could see him spending the rest of his life in San Jose.”

Not exactly playing hard to get in order to drive up the price of his next contract, is he?

Thumbnail image for joethornton.jpgGoing into this off-season, I thought the Sharks had a big mess on their hands with big unrestricted free agents (Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov) along with talented restricted free agents (Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi). Aside from the potentially enormous change that comes with letting Nabokov – their franchise goalie for 10 seasons – leave for Russia, the team kept the majority of their core players together.

They’ll still be a team that depends on their top three forwards (Thornton, Marleau and Dany Heatley) along with a few support guys like Pavelski to carry most of the scoring burden. Their defense might be a little shaky as they didn’t add anyone significant despite losing veteran defenseman Rob Blake to retirement, but don’t be surprised if they are still a contender next season.

Some may still wonder about Jumbo Joe’s postseason moxie, but my guess is that the content spirit Thornton enjoys is more about the lack of clouds in that South Bay sky than complacency. He might not ever win a Stanley Cup to underscore how successful his career truly turned out, but Thornton is one of the best players of his generation.

And while it might be challenging to make such a case wearing teal, it sounds like Joe Thornton will be doing just that as his prime seasons give away to his final twilight years.

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    Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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    John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

    Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

    Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

    A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

    McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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    Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

    Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

    Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

    McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

    It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

    Update:

    Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

    Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

    The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

    Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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    Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

    Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

    London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

    “When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

    “He does everything for us.”

    Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

     

    After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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    Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

    Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

    Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

    “This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

    “He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”