The Los Angeles Kings have reached out to San Jose Sharks center and pending unrestricted free agent Joe Thornton, multiple sources told LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen.
Thornton, who will officially become a free agent on Saturday, is “a priority” for the Kings, a source told Rosen. Los Angeles, one of the league’s best possession teams in recent seasons, has been unable to convert its possession dominance into higher-quality chances and goal-scoring, according to Rosen. Enter Thornton, who remains one of the league’s best passers even as he’s about to turn 38 on Sunday. Thornton is also close with a few key figures within the organization, as Rosen noted:
On top of Thornton’s abilities are his relationships with key figures in Los Angeles’ front office. He played with Kings General Manager Rob Blake in San Jose, while Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Development Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager when he played in Boston. On top of these relationships, Thornton also remains very close with Glen Murray, a figure in Los Angeles’ player development, and I’m told the two, who played together with the Bruins for three and a half seasons, regularly communicate.
The Kings have a hair over $10 million in salary cap space, according to Cap Friendly, which may not be enough to sign Thornton as well as their restricted free agents, Rosen wrote.
Los Angeles, as well as the Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Rangers are among Thornton’s “potential sutiors,” according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Toronto may also be interested in Thornton plus fellow longtime Shark and pending unrestricted free agent Patrick Marleau, but is “quieter about their intentions,” Friedman wrote. Playing outside of North America may also be a possibility, according to Friedman:
Do not be surprised, either, if Thornton brings up the possibility of Switzerland. His wife’s from there and he’s said he will play in that country before his career is over.
Thornton previously played for HC Davos of Switzerland’s National League during the 2004-05 and 2012 lockouts.