Consistently among the NHL‘s top scorers, Joe Thornton continues to lead the way for the San Jose Sharks. He has been the club’s best player since they acquired him from the Boston Bruins in a blockbuster trade in 2005. Now a seasoned veteran at age 34, Thornton has developed into a tremendous two-way pivot and still hasn’t lost his uncanny ability to set up his teammates.
The Ontario native has long been considered one of the best playmakers in the world, and though his point totals have dipped over the past few years, he’s still a premiere distributor of the puck. In 59 games this season, Thornton has a team-leading 56 points, putting him just under a point-per-game scoring pace.
Of those 56 points, a whopping 48 are assists. This puts Thornton behind only Sidney Crosby, who has 50 helpers, in total assists. He’s also ranked 12th in the league in points.
In addition to his stellar play in the offensive zone, Thornton is a key part of San Jose’s penalty kill and one of the team’s top defensive players. He plays heavy minutes against the opposition’s best defenders and most dangerous forwards. Thornton is a huge part of the reason why the Sharks boast the league’s eighth-best penalty-killing percentage at 83.7 percent.
It would be unfair to grade Thornton any lower than an “A”. He’s simply too important to the team, and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for San Jose’s success not just this year, but every season since he came on board. The Sharks haven’t missed the playoffs with him in teal, and have been Stanley Cup contenders year in and year out since ’05.