Report: Leafs interested in Sharks captain Thornton

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The trade speculation swirling around San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton has taken a turn for the dramatic and that’s all about who he’s being linked to.

Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs have taken a shine to Jumbo Joe and they’re not alone. Zeisberger says at least six teams have taken an interest in the 35-year-old center.

The Leafs reasons for doing so should be obvious as the offensive potential of seeing Thornton at center between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk is enough to make anyone’s eyes pop.

Kessel and van Riemsdyk put up monster numbers this season with Tyler Bozak centering them. Van Riemsdyk had career-highs in goals (30) and points (61). The thought of having Thornton, who was second in the league in assists this season with 65, setting those two up could be enough to tickle GM Dave Nonis into action.

The Maple Leafs are also intriguing for this talk as they’ve got a pair of young players who might be readily available to be moved in defenseman Jake Gardiner and center Nazem Kadri. Both players had great numbers last season as well but may not be agreeable to coach Randy Carlyle’s system.

It’s idle speculation for now but the Sharks appear set to deal Thornton, who has a no-movement clause, and the Maple Leafs are ready to deal with just about anyone to improve the team.

The biggest issue here could be the age discrepancy between Thornton and the Leafs pair who each 23. Giving up youth for experience is a dangerous gamble.