Rolston was a much worse player than Joe Thornton. When you are looking at rates of decline, a good place to start is how good was the player initially? Well, Thornton was amazing, and while his goal scoring has dried up, he's still a phenomenal passer. Then I'd look at injuries - Thornton has basically suffered no serious injuries in his career, or at least not for the last 10 years.
The end can come fast. Sakic scored 100 points at age 37 and only played 60 more games. Injuries can always strike. But I'd certainly bet on Joe Thornton - he is one of the smartest players in the league. If he can stay healthy I don't doubt he could play 5 or 6 more years, most of those at a high level.
Correct. Thornton hasn't missed a game the last 3 years. In fact, he's only missed a grand total of 6 since coming over from Boston. He's very durable. The goal production is down but there are few better set up men. He needs 148 assists for 1,000. With 3 years remaining on a contract worth an average cap hit of $6.75 million, he's affordable. He and Marleau signed basically identical deals. The Sharks also have Pavelski and Couture earning 6. Burns also makes $5.76 through 2016-17. That's a lot invested in a core that has fallen short. It's a shame that such great hockey fans suffer every year.
Looking at Jumbo Joe's postseason numbers, he's never scored over 3 goals. The assists are nice. Ironically, he had 2 goals and 1 assist in the 3 wins vs LA. No points and minus-6 the final 4. Part of that was Quick, who's clutch. The Sharks' collapse coincided with the loss of top defenseman Vlasic. They were careless defensively and exposed. I like Thornton. I just wonder why he doesn't have that killer instinct. If only he played with that missing edge.
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Hasan, Brian and I blog at New York Puck. Devils, Islanders, Rangers and Sabres.