Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thornton: Future Washington Capitals Center?

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After the San Jose Sharks historic collapse to the Los Angeles Kings, losing in the first round in the playoffs this season despite holding a 3-0 series lead, changes could be coming in San Jose. According to sources, one of those changes might include trading team captain Joe Thornton. The Washington Capitals are definitely in need of a second line center. If Thornton is willing to waive his no trade clause, could he be a fit on the Capitals?

Joe Thornton: The Good

Despite being 34 years old, Joe Thornton is about as reliable as you can get. Since 2002, Thornton has either been a point per game player or darn close to it. The Capitals were quite inconsistent on offense last year, so I think getting Thornton could help in that regard. Why’s he so consistent? He makes everybody around him better with his terrific vision and extremely high hockey IQ.

Thornton is also a very disciplined player, as he rarely takes penalties. The last season he had over 60 penalty minutes? 2005-2006. Thornton would also help with the powerplay, adding a unique playmaking/passing element that the Capitals power play lacked last year.

His Corsi and Fenwick are both out of this world good, meaning that when he’s on the ice, his team consistently out shoots their opponent. His zone start percentage is lower than I expected (46.9% last season). That suggests that he might be better on defense than people think.

Joe Thornton: The Bad

As I said earlier, Joe Thornton is 34 years old. Who knows how long he can continue to be one of the best centers in the NHL? There’s also the issue of his contract. Not only does he have a full no trade clause, his cap hit for the next three seasons is $6,750,000. That’s actually quite reasonable for someone of Thornton’s caliber, but still, that’s a pretty big number.

The Cost

My guess is it would take quite a bit to get Joe Thornton. Once the Capitals get past his full no trade clause (meaning he can deny any and all trades from the Sharks), it would probably take at least Marcus JohanssonConnor Carrick, and a 1st round pick. It could potentially cost them a top prospect as well, such as Riley Barber or Andre Burakovsky. That’s quite the hefty price.

The Verdict

I would love to see Joe Thornton in a Capitals sweater. He’d be a great second line center and he’d work wonders with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson if he’s paired with those two guys. However, I think the cost would be too high. Which is fine because there’s only room in Washington for one #19.

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