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Photo Credit: © Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Jumbo Joe is a Toronto Maple Leaf

Joe Thornton is a Toronto Maple Leaf, at least, according to the Leafs.

According to Chris Johnston, he has taken the Jason Spezza route and signed for league minimum.

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The contract also comes with no 35-plus performance bonuses, which is significant for the team’s salary cap situation.

The 41 year old center should need no introduction, as in his prime, he was one of the greatest playmakers in the game. Across 23 seasons and 1636 games, he has 420 goals and 1089 assists for a total of 1509 points, spending his career in Boston where he was drafted before being traded to San Jose.

Thornton brings another big veteran presence to the room, and like Spezza, is one in his final years looking for one last chance at a Cup. While it may seem surprising that he didn’t re-sign with the Sharks, he seemed a bit displeased at the deadline when he wasn’t dealt to a contender, so seeing him go to another team, especially one near his hometown, isn’t too much of a shock.

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Thornton also adds another center along with Matthews, Tavares, Kerfoot, Thornton, and Spezza. Whether he and Spezza switch it up at center on the fourth line, or he allows Kerfoot to move up the depth chart and play 3C remains to be seen, but he does improve the bottom six depth that was looking depleted, and he’s cheap.

That said, he is far from the player he once was, so there is some concern.

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Much like when the Leafs signed Patrick Marleau a few years ago, this should be looked at as another piece to the puzzle, not something that will put the Leafs over the top. That said, Thornton comes at a much cheaper price than Marleau, so there is far less concern here.