The Joe Thornton trade talk is beginning to heat up.
According to the Toronto Sun, the Maple Leafs are among at least six NHL teams that have “kicked the tires” concerning the Sharks captain’s availability. Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has suggested there will be some significant changes to the Sharks’ roster after the club blew a 3-0 first round playoff series lead to Los Angeles, and that could include moving Thornton and/or winger Patrick Marleau.
Wilson has also said there will be “different players in core leadership roles,” which may mean stripping Thornton of the captaincy.
Thornton has a full no-trade clause thanks to a three-year contract extension signed in January, and would have to approve any deal. His agent and brother, John Thornton, has suggested several times on Twitter in recent weeks that Thornton’s preference is to stay in San Jose.
In a text message to CSNBayArea.com, John Thornton replied with a simple "Ha!" when asked for his response to the report.
Still, the 35-year-old was born in London, Ontario, a short drive from Toronto, so suggesting he may be amenable to a deal with the Maple Leafs may not be out of the question.
The Maple Leafs, who struggled mightily in the second half of the regular season and missed the playoffs in 2013-14, are desperately in need of a center to play with talented wingers like Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. Thornton, who finished second in the NHL in assists last season with 65, could be a fit.
Like the Sharks, Toronto is also looking to make some moves after a disappointing season, and it’s been reported that younger players like forward Nazem Kadri, 23, and defenseman Jake Gardiner, 23, could be on the move. Forwards Dave Bolland and Nikolai Kulemin could also be traded, while defenseman and captain Dion Phaneuf has been mentioned in recent months.