San Jose Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will continue their illustrious careers in teal after each signing three-year extensions to remain with the team. Both players will remain key cogs to the team after being the franchise’s cornerstone players for the better part of the last nine seasons.
What do these deals mean for the Sharks moving forward? A few things to keep in mind.
It would appear that both the length and terms of the deals benefitted the Sharks organization as a team.
Thornton’s deal has an annual value of 6.75 million dollars. Marleau’s contract is worth 6.66 million dollars per year. Both deals have a no-movement clause.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson stated that both players signed cap-friendly deals that will allow the Sharks to build the team around them and have continued success.
“I cannot complement these players enough,” Wilson said in an article on NHL.com. “We really appreciate what they’ve done here with these contracts, and they’ve done it several times… It says a lot about both of them as people and teammates.”
Considering the short supply of players at Thornton and Marleau’s levels that reach free agency, there was a very real possibility that another team could have outbid the Sharks.
Marleau confirmed before the deal that “there’s probably a good chance” he would have signed with another team if Thornton hadn’t agreed to stay with San Jose. Thornton reciprocated that statement in a later interview on sjsharks.com.
This past summer, San Jose signed Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture to matching five-year contracts.
The thought at the time was that those deals cemented them as the eventual predecessors to take the leadership positions after Thornton and Marleau. Their contracts will kick in after the season and hold hefty raises for each player and deservedly so.
However with Thornton and Marleau sticking around it’s less pressure on all four players in the leadership group. The wider age range of these star players means there’s a broader spectrum of viewpoints and opinions which in the Sharks case is probably a good thing.
Another point to be made for both Thornton and Marleau is the level of play considering their age. Each player is 34 years old but neither has shown signs of serious deterioration in play.
Thornton is near the top of the league in assists with 48 and is tenth in points with 56. Marleau earned a spot on Team Canada for the second time in his career after posting 49 points and 22 goals so far this season.
Neither one has proven to have much of an injury history (knock on wood). Thornton has missed a grand total of just six games since the 2005 lockout and two of those games were due to suspensions.
Marleau hasn’t missed any more than six games in a season in that same time period.
The fates of both Marleau and Thornton have been tied for some time now.
Thornton was taken with the first overall pick in the 1997 draft by the Boston Bruins. Marleau was taken with the following pick.
Once Thornton was traded to the Sharks in the 2005-06 season, he and Marleau have become the most identifiable scapegoats for not bringing a Stanley Cup to San Jose.
It would seem that winning a Stanley Cup in San Jose was one of the key factors in both players re-signing.
“We wanted to stay here together and sign together,” Thornton said in an article on NHL.com. “It’s important that we both stay. We both feel like we have a shot to win every year, and I think that’s the most important thing. We both really believe in this group of guys, and we want to stay around to see us win a Stanley Cup.”
That has to be a welcome sentiment to Sharks fans as the possibility was starting to grow that one of or both of the players would be leaving via free agency after the season.
Written by Inside Edge Hockey News writer - Tejus Govindjie
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