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Is it time for Joe Thornton to have his Ray Bourque moment?

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As the Sharks plan to “re-tool,” should they consider the unthinkable?

An overhead view as Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks skates during warmups against the Philadelphia Flyers at SAP Center on December 28, 2019 in San Jose, California. Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks’ postseason chances are looking slimmer by the day. After last night’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the team sits nine points behind the Edmonton Oilers, who occupy the second Wild Card position in the Western Conference. The loss of Captain Logan Couture has added to the hole they’ve been trying to dig themselves out of since October.

Our very good friend, Erik Fowle, broke down the points rate for the Sharks to even have a chance to make the playoffs at the beginning of the month. Basically, they would have to turn into the St. Louis Blues or the Boston Bruins to even have a chance to make the playoffs. They currently have to leapfrog over five teams and all of those teams have at least one game in hand.

Even if they do make the playoffs, what is their ceiling? They would most likely face St. Louis in the first round and right now the Blues are a much better team. The goal for this team is to win a cup and at this point in the season, they are not in position to do so — and it’s looking less likely they will be at all before April.

This begs the question: what should they do?

A few names have already surfaced as potential trade candidates. Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen, Melker Karlsson and Brenden Dillon have been very popular names, but today we are going down the darkest of timelines to explore how the Sharks could acquire assets to aid their re-tooling.

The Sharks should trade Joe Thornton.

It’s sacrilegious, right? He’s the one that stayed. Patrick Marleau left, Joe Pavelski got out of dodge — but not Jumbo Joe. He’s stayed with San Jose the whole time, through thick and thin. He’s been the face of the franchise since he arrived here 14 years ago. There is no way that the Sharks would ever trade him.

But should they at least think about it?

Since Christmas, Thornton has racked up two goals and five assists, helping to solidify the Sharks’ play as of recent. He has helped to improve the power play on the second unit and the Sharks are (sort-of) winning games now.

So, what’s the issue? Again, the Sharks are too far in a hole to make a legitimate cup run. They should be treating this season like 2014-15 season and trying to acquire assets, assessing the younger players and reload for another cup run. The acquiring assets part is very important, since the Sharks do not have a first round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft due to the Erik Karlsson signing (this writer would also do that deal/signing every day of the week and twice on Sunday).

If a player isn’t going to be a part of your long term plans, it’s time to get as much as you can for them.

Sharks Upcoming Draft Picks
Via CapFriendly

While not every prospect or draft pick pans out, it gives Doug Wilson ammunition to do things. Wilson is one of the best wheelers and dealers in the league and has shown time and time again that he can make chicken salad out of less than desirable ingredients. I don’t expect the Sharks to tear everything down, but they would have to sell off some assets to give Wilson something to work with.

The roadblocks for trading Joe Thornton:

  1. He has a No Movement Clause, so Thornton would have to be comfortable with the decision. The Sharks would have to trade him to a true contender who Thornton thinks has a real chance of winning the Stanley Cup with.
  2. While Thornton has been producing, his production this season has not been where it has in the past. While Thornton hasn’t been producing, he also wouldn’t necessarily be required to do as much on a cup contending team and would slide into a third or forth line role that would allow him to play less, but more valuable minutes.

So that brings us to who should the Sharks send Thornton to:

  1. Dallas Stars: He would be reunited with Joe Pavelski. This a veteran team that is trying to win now. They have the goaltending and the depth, but Thornton would have to play with Corey Perry and that is gross. Another downside? The number 19 is retired with this franchise. This is very important when it comes to these decisions (and don’t pretend it isn’t weird that Pavelski no longer wears No. 8).
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning: It seems as if the Lightning have finally gotten over the shock of their first round playoff loss and have started playing some great hockey. This team has a several super star players and Thornton would help to solidify the third line with Patrick Maroon and Yanni Gourde. Thornton would also get to go shirtless all the time in Florida and the number 19 is available.
  3. Boston Bruins: There is footage of Joe Thornton playing in Boston, and it’s time to bring him home and finish what he started. This would make the Bruins 1000 percent more likable, and he can help a team that needs some forward support. The Bruins are serious contenders and while it would be weird to see Thornton raise the cup in another jersey, seeing him do it with the Bruins wouldn’t be the worst image in sports. Also the number 19 is available.

It’s hard to think about, but the Sharks should give Joe Thornton his Ray Bourque moment. They are not winning the cup this year and if anyone in the NHL deserves to lift the cup, it’s Joe Thornton. If the Sharks can’t do right by the fans this season, maybe it’s time to do right by Joe.

We’ll see Jumbo again when it’s time to raise that No. 19 banner.