With the Blues having lost David Perron to the expansion draft and Patrik Berglund to a shoulder injury, could they make a run at Joe Thornton?
With Patrik Berglund out until at least December after having shoulder surgery earlier this week, the St. Louis Blues might be in need of extra forward depth. After all, they already suffered a decently significant loss up front earlier this offseason, when David Perron was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. While the Blues have a good amount of intriguing young forward depth, it’d be reasonable to assert that they could use more of a veteran presence.
There have been calls from some portions of the media and fan base to sign 35-year-old Justin Williams dating back to the middle of last season. But with Williams likely having a multitude of suitors who are willing to offer him more money and a more prominent role than the Blues are, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jeremy Rutherford has thrown out the name of another free agent who could be intriguing to the Blues on multiple occasions over the past couple days:
With $11.6 million currently available, he Blues should have enough cap space to sign Thornton, who’s likely a future Hall-of-Famer, if they so desire.
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Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is certainly entering the decline stage of his career, and he could be slowed down even more after having surgery to repair a torn left ACL and MCL–both of which he played through for four postseason games–after the conclusion of this year’s playoffs. While he’s certainly not the perennial 20-goal scorer that he once was, Thornton is still a very productive setup man and could catapult Vladimir Tarasenko‘s production to an even greater level. In 2016-17, he had seven goals and 43 assists with a plus-7 rating over 79 games. His 50 points would have ranked fourth among Blues players. He’s also just one year removed from a spectacular 2015-16 campaign during which he had 19 goals and 63 assists with a plus-25 rating while playing all 82 games.
Thornton’s experience in making deep playoff runs, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015-16, would surely be valuable to a Blues roster that currently lacks a single player who has ever played in a Stanley Cup Finals game. It’d surely also be intriguing to see how he could boost the production of guys like Tarasenko, Robby Fabbri, and Jaden Schwartz.
On the other hand, though, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to stick a 38-year-old Thornton right in the middle of the Blues’ youth movement. We’ve seen the Colorado Avalanche try to find success with a combination of emerging young stars and aging free-agent pick-ups, and it hasn’t worked out. Thornton might not even want to come to St. Louis; he’s spent the past 12 seasons in the Bay Area, and it’d be understandable if he wasn’t too excited about packing up his family and moving halfway across the country.
The Blues might be better-served just to dedicate the majority of their free cap money to locking up Colton Parayko for the long term, rather than spending $5-6 million on Thornton when they’re already pretty much set at center once Berglund returns.