Joe Thornton could return from a knee injury and play this season, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told The Athletic on Thursday.
The 38-year-old center had arthroscopic surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament in his right knee Jan. 25, two days after he was injured during a 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
"I would never count him out," Wilson said. "You saw what happened last year. He just follows his own script. He knows his body better than anybody with what he went through last year. The next milestone will be when he gets back skating, and we'll get a read from there."
Thornton has 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 47 games. He had offseason surgery on the MCL and ACL in his left knee, an injury sustained April 2. He missed the first two games of the Western Conference First Round against the Edmonton Oilers and then returned to the lineup for Games 3 through 6; the Sharks lost in six games.
"All I can say is what we went through with him last year, he just does things in a way that I've never seen an athlete do," Wilson said. "There are no guidelines that I think he adheres to."
Thornton, in his 20th NHL season, is 16th in scoring with 1,427 points in 1,493 games with the Sharks and Boston Bruins. He's 12th with 1,030 assists, three behind Mario Lemieux for 11th.
The Sharks (33-19-8), who play at the Nashville Predators on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, NBCSCA, NHL.TV), are in second place in the Pacific Division, 10 points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights and one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.