As soon as the San Jose Sharks got centers Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski locked up through 2018-19, attention immediately turned to the future of veteran center Joe Thornton.
Thornton has one year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. The former Hart Trophy winner is still a very effective player who averages almost a point per game; however, there are only so many top minutes, not to mention dollars, to go around.
At 34 years old, Thornton isn’t exactly young (for the NHL) either. And on that note, San Jose also has 19-year-old center Tomas Hertl, the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, in the system. (Hertl will be at training camp in September, with an eye on making the team.)
Like Thornton, veteran forward Patrick Marleau, 33, and defenseman Dan Boyle, 37, have just one year remaining on their contracts.
In July, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he’s had talks with all three pending UFAs, but wouldn’t tip his hand as to the likelihood of any of them signing extensions.
“We don’t talk about negotiations publicly,” said Wilson. “Have we had discussions with the other three? Yes. Will we have discussions going forward? The answer is yes.”
Of the three, Boyle may be the easiest to re-sign, if only due to his age and the fact he can’t really command a long extension. Thornton and Marleau, on the other hand, could probably get three to four years — maybe even five — if they hit the open market.
Boyle has already indicated he wants to stay put.
“I’ve made it clear this is where I want to be and this is where I want to finish my career,” he said in May
According to Sharks beat writer Kevin Kurz (CSN Bay Area), it’s likely all three will go into the 2013-14 season with their futures unsettled. Writes Kurz: “Individual performance, and the performance of the team, could dictate which of those three continues to wear a black and teal sweater in the fall of 2014.”
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