Joe Thornton will play game No. 1000 tonight, but tomorrow night would’ve been better

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It’s almost too bad Joe Thornton will hit this historic benchmark tonight in New Jersey. Not to take anything away from the Prudential Center or the streaking Devils (winners of three straight) — it’s just that, tomorrow night, the Sharks will take on the Bruins in Boston.

Now that would’ve been a storyline.

It’s been almost six full years since the blockbuster deal that sent Thornton to San Jose in exchange for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. The deal still stands as one of the most remarkable in NHL history — that year, Thornton became the only player in league history to win the Hart and Art Ross trophies while playing for two different teams in the same season.

In short, Boston traded away the league’s most valuable player…for three okay players.

Looking back on Thornton’s time in Boston, it makes you wonder if it could’ve gone differently:

— The season after losing their leading goalscorer (Bill Guerin) starting goalie (Byron Dafoe) and a good defenseman (Kyle McLaren), the Bruins made the 23-year-old Thornton team captain. This despite the presence of veterans like Glen Murray (an original Bruins pick that played five season with the team), Don Sweeney (third all-time in games played) and Rob Zamuner (who had been the captain in Tampa).

— That year, Jumbo had 101 points in 77 games.

— The coach that made him captain, Robbie Ftorek, was fired.

— Speaking of coaches, Thornton had five in seven years: Pat Burns, Mike Keenan, Ftorek, Mike O’Connell and Mike Sullivan.

— Thornton took major abuse for Boston’s lack of playoff success. But how about considering the goalies that started playoff games for Boston during that time: Dafoe, Jeff Hackett, Steve Shields and Andrew Raycroft.

The playoff stigma followed Thornton to San Jose, but even that has its flaws. For all of Thornton’s supposed choking, he’s been to back-to-back Western Conference finals and scored 29 points in his last 33 postseason games. If other players do that, they’re considered pretty solid playoff performers.

I guess the problem is that Joe Thornton isn’t other players. He’s unique, polarizing. He’s either Jumbo Joe or No-Show Joe — and after 1000 games in the National Hockey League, there’s still debate about which nickname is more apt.

WATCH LIVE: 2017 NHL Draft – the first round

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Will the New Jersey Devils select Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick with the first overall pick? Could another team swoop in and trade for a high choice, whether it be from the Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, or someone else?

On a day of huge, often shocking trades, the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft still has potential to bring more twists and turns.

You can watch another important night in the NHL unfold on NBCSN beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Also, check out PHT’s draft tracker here. Note the current order of selections below.

PHT’s 2017 NHL Draft Tracker

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From the United Center in Chicago, it’s the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft!

Click back here throughout the night for all the latest picks, complete with draft profiles, stories and video from tonight’s broadcast on NBCSN.

1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. New York Rangers (from Arizona)
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NY Islanders)
16. Calgary Flames
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
18. Boston Bruins
19. San Jose Sharks
20. St. Louis Blues
21. New York Rangers
22. Edmonton Oilers
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota)
24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus via Vegas)
25. Montreal Canadiens
26. Chicago Blackhawks
27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington)
28. Ottawa Senators
29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim)
30. Nashville Predators
31. Pittsburgh Penguins

Capitals re-sign Oshie for eight years, $46 million

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T.J. Oshie will be staying with the Washington Capitals for a very, very long time.

The team announced on Friday evening that it has signed the veteran forward to an eight-year contract that will pay him an average annual salary of $5.75 million.

That comes out to a total dollar amount of $46 million.

“T.J. is an invaluable member of our team and we felt it was imperative for us to re-sign him in a competitive free agent market,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement released by the team. “T.J. is a highly competitive player with a tremendous skill set; he epitomizes the kind of player our team must have in order for us to continue to put ourselves in a position to compete in this League.”

Oshie is coming off of a career year for the Capitals that saw him score 33 goals to go with 28 assists in only 68 games.

While the team is almost certainly ecstatic to bring him back (and better off in the short-term), that eight-year commitment could be a risky one long-term. While Oshie is still a top-line player and was one of the most productive forwards in the league this past season, he is also already 30 years old. Giving that much term to a player that has already celebrated his 30th birthday usually ends up becoming an issue before the contract expires. But that is still pretty far down the road, and the Capitals are a better team in the short-term with him back in the mix. If he proves to be an essential ingredient in maybe bringing a Stanley Cup to Washington, they certainly won’t complain about maybe having to deal with a bad contract in five or six years.

In two years with the Capitals he has 59 goals and 48 assists (107 points) in 148 games.

His re-signing with the Capitals also puts a pretty significant dent in the upcoming free agent class as Oshie was looking to be one of the most sought after players on the open market.

On Friday, shortly after the Blackhawks overhauled their roster, there was speculation they might make a run at him as a potential Artemi Panarin replacement. Obviously, they will have to now look elsewhere. With Oshie no longer available the biggest names that could be available would be Alexander Radulov (assuming he and the Montreal Canadiens can not come to terms) or Ilya Kovalchuk (if he makes a return to the NHL).

Barroway doing ‘what’s right’ for Coyotes

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CHICAGO — If it wasn’t clear that Andrew Barroway is running the show in Arizona, it sure is now.

Since Barroway bought out his minority partners earlier this month, the Coyotes have cut ties with captain Shane Doan, traded goalie Mike Smith, and parted ways with head coach Dave Tippett.

That is no coincidence. Doan, Smith, and Tippett were the old guard, and Barroway wants to chart a new path.

For the breakup with Tippett, Barroway cited “philosophical differences on how to build” the team.

“I mean, he’s 100 percent owner,” GM John Chayka said Friday before the NHL Entry Draft. “Usually those guys do have some influence. … I think he’s trying to do what’s right for the organization moving forward. He wants to help find us an arena and keep us (in Arizona) long term. He wants to help us build a team. He’s invested emotionally, financially, everything. I respect that about him.”

Read more: ‘It was the owner’s decision’

But the shakeup hasn’t been easy on Chayka, who now has to find a new head coach, in addition to everything else on his plate.

“I’m 24 hours past Dave Tippett, and he’s a tough guy to get over,” said Chayka. “I’m focused on picking the best player tonight, then going from there.”

The Coyotes have the 23rd overall pick tonight. That was the selection they got from Minnesota in the Martin Hanzal trade. Arizona’s pick, the seventh overall selection, went to the Rangers in today’s Derek Stepan trade.

Hectic times for the Desert Dogs.

Related: Coyotes acquire Niklas Hjalmarsson from Chicago