Panthers ink veteran Joe Thornton to one-year deal

Cats add 42-year-old savvy veteran for depth down the middle

The Florida Panthers have signed unrestricted free agent forward Joe Thornton to a one-year contract worth the league minimum of $750K.

Thornton, 42, has appeared in 1,680 games with the Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks  and Toronto Maple Leafs (2020-21), which stands as the second-most games played of any active NHL player and is the sixth-most games played all time. He has amassed 1,529 points (425G/1,104A) over his long career, which leads all active NHL skaters. His 1,104 career assists lead all active players and ranks as the seventh-most assists all time. Thornton has produced a total of 134 points in 186 postseason games.

General Bill Zito had this to say: “With more than 1,600 games played in the NHL, Joe will bring a wealth of experience to our locker room and lineup. His drive to succeed is unmistakable and we are thrilled that he chose to sign with our club and that he believes in what we are building here in South Florida.”

The six-time NHL All-Star was the recipient of both the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Trophy in 2005-06 after leading the league with 96 assists and 125 points.

Thornton is San Jose’s all-time franchise leader in assists (804), power-play points (402) and plus-minus rating (+161), and ranks second in total points (1,055). He served as captain for both the Sharks and Bruins, eclipsing the 100-point mark three times (2002-03, 2005-06 and 2006-07) and the 80-point mark seven times.

Thornton, who was originally selected by the Boston Bruins with the first overall pick of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, played for the Maple Leafs last season and produced five goals and 20 points in 44 Candian Division games. He scored one goal in Toronto’s seven-game playoff defeat to the Montreal Canadiens.

Welcome aboard, Jumbo Joe!

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