Could the Toronto Maple Leafs land Joe Thornton?

Speculation out of San Jose suggests that the Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in Sharks veteran Joe Thornton.

The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz listed him as a potential trade option for Toronto.

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After Auston Matthews and John Tavares, Toronto’s third- and fourth-line centers lately have been Pierre Engvall and Frederik Gauthier. Engvall, a rookie, has managed 14 points (7g, 7a) in 30 games, so his career is off to a nice start, while the former first-round pick Gauthier has 10 points (6g, 4a) in 47 games as he’s bounced between the NHL and the AHL the past few seasons.

Thornton, of course, nearly ended up in Toronto when Marleau signed his contract there in the 2017 offseason. Perhaps he’d welcome the idea of putting on a Leafs sweater for a playoff run after growing up in nearby St. Thomas, Ontario. What might hurt the Leafs’ chances if they’re interested, though, is that they aren’t quite a lock to make the playoffs, in third place in the competitive Atlantic Division, six points behind second-place Tampa and now tied in points with the improving Florida Panthers. They’d also have to move money out to accommodate Thornton’s salary, as they are right up against the cap. Further, their top need could be defense as Morgan Rielly remains out with a foot injury.

As Kurz noted, the Leafs would have to look to move some kind of salary out in order to bring in Thornton and his $2-million salary.

Despite being 41 years old, ‘Jumbo’ has still been able to provide great offensive value for the Sharks this year scoring two goals and another 22 assists in 55 games. The 6’4″, 220lb. centre put up 16-25—51 in 73 games last year.

On Twitter: @zjlaing