In news that seemed to arrive completely out of left field, Joe Thornton has signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Florida Panthers. Thornton is picking a team that he believes can help him land that elusive Stanley Cup (fill in obvious Florida retirement home joke here). In case you think Thornton is washed up, Sheldon Keefe thought enough of him to give him top-line minutes with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner at times. That being said, expect the 42-year-old Thornton to be a bottom-6 forward with the Panthers, with the possibility to move up in the lineup if there are injuries.
I don't necessarily see Thornton himself being in heavy demand in fantasy leagues, although he could be a waiver-wire pickup if he gets a run on one of the scoring lines. Kind of like last season in Toronto.
This signing really impacts other players, in particular prospects that you may be waiting on. Florida has a logjam of forwards, which means that someone like Anton Lundell spends the year getting used to North American life in the AHL while getting good and ready for the NHL. Kind of like the old Detroit model. Although he would be considered NHL-ready in many other organizations, Grigori Denisenko might also be given another season in the AHL to really ripen, given that he played only 22 total games (NHL and AHL) last season. Being waivers-exempt also matters here, even if a meritocracy seems fairer.
I already wrote about the Florida forward situation here, when the Sam Reinhart trade was announced. I won't rehash it any more than that, except to say that they've just added one more forward to the pile.
In a Friday afternoon/evening news drop to perhaps avoid around-the-clock coverage from the Toronto media, the