The Toronto Maple Leafs waited until July 2 to made their first impact move of the summer, signing veteran free agent forward Patrick Marleau to a three-year, $18.75 Million contract.
Thornton said he was in constant contact with Marleau the past few days to try to persuade him to stay.
"Patty is going to be a Shark for life, and he's going to go down as the best Shark of all time". And apparently, Thornton literally signed the contract while on his tractor. I feel like I have a lot left in the tank. He will bring a veteran presence to a young Maple Leafs squad that lost to top-seeded Washington in a tight, six-game, first-round playoff series last season.
Along with the additions of 36-year olds Dominic Moore and Ron Hainsey, the Marleau signing is an indicator that Lamoriello is attempting to upgrade the Leafs roster to be competitive in the two-year window that youngsters Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are on their entry-level deals. His seven goals were the fewest since he broke into the National Hockey League as a rookie during the 1997-98 season, but he contributed 43 assists. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line. Thornton then underwent surgery to fix his MCL and ACL after the season but plans to be back on the ice in two weeks and completely healthy for the start of training camp.
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"I'm feeling strong", Thornton said, per the Mercury News. "I'm not going to say I'm 100 percent right now, but I'm pretty darned close".
Marleau, the second overall pick in 1997, has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He's also the franchise leader in goals, games and points.
Marleau continues to be a consistent offensive performer into his 30's, scoring 25+ goals five of the last seven seasons and not missing a regular season game since 2008-09, but a three-year contract is a calculated risk. He has had at least 50 points in the past 16 non-lockout seasons he has played. "But I think he's going to do great in Toronto and I think it's going to be a good fit", said Thornton, per CSN Bay Area. "He is a generational playmaker and his accomplishments place him amongst the elite players to ever play the game".
Marleau's loss will be felt in San Jose, where he helped a young franchise develop into a consistent victor after he came to the Bay Area from a small town in Saskatchewan as a teenager in 1997.
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