The San Jose Sharks have been among the top contenders in the Western Conference for the past several years due largely to the contributions of forwards Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton. On Jan. 24, the organization essentially guaranteed three more years of success by extending both players.
According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the Sharks prevented Marleau and Thornton from becoming unrestricted free agents this coming offseason by signing them each to three-year extensions.
Breaking news: San Jose Sharks have signed Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton to 3-year extensions.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 24, 2014
The Sharks confirmed the extensions on their official website, and general manager Doug Wilson couldn't have been happier about getting the deals done, saying:
Patrick and Joe continue to perform at an elite level in the National Hockey League and, most importantly, they make the other players around them better. They both made it very clear that they wanted to stay in San Jose and we were able to agree on contracts that fit with our team building philosophy.
CSNBayArea.com's Kevin Kurz provides Marleau and Thornton's thoughts:
Marleau: "If (Thornton) wasn’t going to re-sign here, there’s probably a good chance I wouldn’t have re-signed here, as well.” #SJSharks— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzCSN) January 24, 2014
Thornton: “We (he and Marleau) both really believe in this group of guys, and we want to stay around to see us win a Stanley Cup here.”— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzCSN) January 24, 2014
Per LeBrun, the monetary terms are nearly identical, with Thornton earning slightly more on a yearly basis:
Marleau's 3-year deal is worth $6.66 M a year AAV; Thornton's deal is $6.75 M a year AAV.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 24, 2014
Thornton's current contract carries a cap hit of $7 million, while Marleau is at $6.9 million, so both players took slight pay cuts in order to stay in Northern California.
The Sharks are currently fourth in the Western Conference with 72 points, and they figure to be a major factor when it comes to making a run at the Stanley Cup.
Seth Rorabaugh of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted some unique facts about the pair:
Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (with Olli Jokinen) were the top two picks in the 1997 draft here in Pittsburgh: pic.twitter.com/BkdhtmRZ2b— Seth Rorabaugh (@emptynetters) January 24, 2014
Marleau has spent his entire 16-year career with the Sharks, and he is the organization's all-time leader in points with 861. The 34-year-old veteran is second on the team in goals this year with 21 and is third only to Joe Pavelski and Thornton in points with 47.
Thornton joined the Sharks in a trade from the Boston Bruins during the 2005-06 season. He is also 34 years old, and he is fittingly second on San Jose's all-time scoring list. Thornton has over 1,100 career points in total, is a former Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner and figures to be a future Hall of Famer. Thornton also happens to be the Sharks captain.
Are these smart signings for the Sharks?
Although negotiations were quite secretive prior to the official announcement, Thornton's agent and brother, John Thornton, expected that the Sharks would complete deals with Thornton, Marleau and defenseman Dan Boyle eventually, according to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News.
"I really don't know," he said. "From our standpoint, I think Doug is trying to get all three done, so it's just a different circumstance."
Interestingly, the Sharks still haven't agreed to anything with the 37-year-old Boyle, so he could be next. At the same time, San Jose may opt to let him test free agency after handing out two hefty extensions.
Whatever the case, the Sharks had to retain Marleau and Thornton in order to send a message to the fans that they intend to win the Cup, and that is precisely what they did.
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