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NHL Free Agency 2017: Thornton’s decision reportedly depends on Marleau’s

Leafs, Kings, Rangers, and Predators reportedly reached out to both players.

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NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thornton’s decision on his future with the San Jose Sharks will depend on longtime teammate Patrick Marleau’s, and they’ve already received interest from some of the same teams, according to reports from TSN, the Athletic, and NBC Sports Bay Area.

Marleau’s decision will impact Thornton’s, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators are among the teams that have reached out to Thornton during the negotiating window, according to LeBrun.

Nashville and Toronto have also reached out to Marleau, the Athletic’s Craig Custance reported two days ago. The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings, who were reported previously to have contacted Thornton, have also spoken with Marleau, according to Custance’s report. He added that if Marleau returns to San Jose, Thornton likely will, too:

If the Sharks find a way to keep Marleau around, the chances of Thornton staying in San Jose increase as well. It wouldn’t be surprising if Thornton waited until Marleau was signed before making a decision.

Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz noted last month that Thornton has long expressed a desire to play alongside Marleau. In 2014, Thornton waited until Marleau had signed his extension so the team could announce both at the same time, even though Thornton had already signed his own extension, according to Kurz.

The Sharks are not near an agreement with Thornton or Marleau, and are not likely to announce a contract with either of them before free agency begins on Saturday, Kurz reported today. In the piece, Kurz reiterated Thornton’s desire to play with Marleau and wrote that it may be a deal-breaker with the Sharks:

If that’s a hill that Thornton is willing to die on, it could mean they will both depart. Put another way, if the Sharks aren’t willing to extend multi-year offers to both Thornton and Marleau, it may be the end of an era.

Thornton and Marleau have been teammates since the former joined the Sharks in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Bruins on December 1, 2005. The two have played intermittently on each other’s line for club and country since then, and won an Olympic Gold Medal as linemates in Vancouver in 2010. They were the first and second overall picks in the 1997 draft, and are the longest-tenured players in Sharks franchise history.

“Hopefully, I can come back and Patty can come back,” Thornton told reporters at the team’s locker room clean-out after San Jose’s season ended. “I think this team is a very good team. I think this is a Stanley Cup caliber team. I really believe that."

The Sharks currently have $18,144,500 in salary cap space, according to Cap Friendly. General Manager said previously that the team’s priority is to re-sign goaltender Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to contract extensions, but that they will continue to negotiate with Thornton and Marleau.


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