It's sounding like Joe Thornton will be back with the Sharks next season.
Thornton had previously expressed that if he were to return for a 22nd NHL season, it would indeed be with San Jose.
"I’m a Shark,” Thornton said at the Sharks' end-of-season availability. “There’s one team, and it’s here.”
At the NHL Awards media availability on Tuesday, Thornton eliminated whatever mystery remained and confirmed he would put off retirement for at least another year, per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
At NHL Awards availability, Joe Thornton says he feels great and will return for 2019-20. He also says he isn’t thinking about just one more season, but even more as long as he feels good.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 18, 2019
Thornton went even further while clarifying his comments to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
Via text message just now, Joe Thornton doubles down on what he announced earlier in Vegas: “Thinking I got 5 more years left in me.”— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 19, 2019
Jaromir Joe Thornton.
Thornton can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but it's fully expected he and San Jose will come to an agreement on a contract -- a task made somewhat easier by the trade of defensemen Justin Braun on Tuesday morning, which provides some much-needed salary cap relief.
"He can have all the time he needs to make whatever decision’s right for him," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said of Thornton back in May. "But we love him. I think I’ve been in this business a long time, I’ve never met anyone like him and we cherish the days we have him."
Thornton's announcement Tuesday would seem to indicate there are plenty of more days left to cherish.