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Marleau, Thornton skate at Sharks practice site

Unrestricted free agent forwards each hoping to play 22nd NHL season

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton skated at the San Jose Sharks practice facility Monday.

Former NHL defenseman Christian Ehrhoff posted a photo on Instagram of his former Sharks teammates, each an unrestricted free agent forward, in full gear.

"Visited my old workplace in San Jose today and ran into a couple of old pals!" Ehrhoff wrote.

Marleau, who was wearing Toronto Maple Leafs gear in the photo, played 19 seasons for the Sharks before signing with Toronto on July 2, 2017. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 22 and became an unrestricted free agent five days later when Carolina bought out the final season of his three-year, $18.75 million contract.

He told The Athletic on June 28 that returning to the Sharks would be a good fit for him, but it's unclear if the sides have spoken about a contract.

The veteran of 21 NHL seasons turns 40 on Sept. 15. Marleau had 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) for Toronto last season, and had two assists in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. He is San Jose's leader in games (1,493), goals (508) and points (1,082).

Instagram from @cehrhoff: Visited my old workplace in San Jose today and ran into a couple of old pals! 🦈 #PatrickMarleau #JoeThornton @sanjosesharks #sharksice #westcoastroadtrip #CE10

Thornton, an unrestricted free agent who turned 40 on July 2, said at the NHL Awards in June his body feels great and that he hopes to return to the Sharks for at least one more season. He previously said he was undecided about whether to play this season or retire, but that if he did continue playing, it would be with San Jose. Thornton had 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 73 games last season, his 21st in the NHL, and 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 19 playoff games.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told NHL.com in July that he's preparing for the season assuming he'll have Thornton in the lineup.

"My understanding is that Joe Thornton is going to play," DeBoer said. "I saw him two days after our season ended in the gym working out. I think he's on record as saying he's going to play and still has gas left in the tank.

"For me, I'm moving forward as if he's going to be in our lineup in September."

Thornton is 14th in NHL history with 1,478 points (413 goals, 1,065 assists). He was the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins and was traded to the Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005. San Jose selected Marleau at No. 2.

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