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Thornton looking to play another season with Sharks

Veteran center plans on staying with San Jose to take another run at Stanley Cup

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Joe Thornton plans to the play in the NHL for at least one more season, the San Jose Sharks center said Tuesday.

A finalist for the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey at the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN), Thornton said he's healthy and looking forward to playing a 21st NHL season.

"Yeah, and longer," Thornton said at NHL Awards Media Day at Encore.

Thornton, who turns 40 on July 2, previously said he wasn't sure if he'd play next season or retire, but jokingly said he might have another decade in him.

"We'll wait and see, but I'm thinking 5-10 (seasons) right now," he said. "I got nothing else going on, so we'll see."

Thornton can become an unrestricted free agent July 1 but said he hopes to talk soon with Sharks management about a contract. He said after losing to the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final that the Sharks would be the only NHL team he'd play for if he plays next season.

"We'll talk. We'll sit down," Thornton said. "I'll sit down with [owner Hasso Plattner] and [coach Peter DeBoer] and [general manager Doug Wilson] and figure something out. My body feels great, and it's going to be the first time in a long time I don't have to rehab in the summer, so I'm excited for that."

Thornton spent each off the past two offseasons working his way back from knee injuries. He tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in 2017 and tore the MCL in his right knee in 2018.

Video: What's next for Thornton and Pavelski?

Thornton had 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) and averaged 15:33 in ice time in 73 games this season. He was voted a finalist for the Masterton with New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno. The winner will be announced during the show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center sports and entertainment complex.

Thornton ranks eighth in NHL history with 1,065 assists and 14th with 1,478 points (413 goals) in 1,566 games, but he has not won the Stanley Cup. After being eliminated by the Blues in six games this postseason, Thornton watched them defeat the Boston Bruins in seven games in the Stanley Cup Final.

"We had a good year, but I think with the guys we've got coming back, there's no reason why we can't give it another crack," said Thornton, who had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games. "We just ran out of gas, a lot of guys were hurt and stuff like that, like a lot of teams. So, it was unfortunate, but it's a new year now."

Thornton said he was encouraged by the Sharks signing defenseman Erik Karlsson to an eight-year contract Monday. Karlsson could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"Super excited for him. Really excited for him," Thornton said. "With [Brent Burns] and him in the back end, and Pickles (Marc-Edouard Vlasic), it's good pairings back there."

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