Frozen Pool Forensics: Joe Thornton

by Cam Robinson on March 4, 2016

 

How is Joe Thornton staying relevant well into the twilight of his career?

We’ve heard it time and time again: “This is a young man’s game, and if you can’t skate, you can’t play.” Well someone forgot to tell Joe Thornton that. (Jaromir Jagr and the Sedin twins have yet to receive the news either).

 

Jumbo Joe has been experiencing a fantastic statistical season at the ripe old age of 36; and his his San Jose Sharks are experiencing a solid season right along with him. Through 62 games, the 1997 first overall pick has 15 goals and 60 points, good for a 10th in league scoring. In fact, using Dobber’s Report Generator, we see that Thornton has quietly been the league’s leading point getter since the calendar flipped over to 2016. And if you take away his stinky October, he’s currently the fifth most productive player from November onwards with 53 points in 52 games.

 

Top 10 Point Categories Jan. 1- Present

Points accumulated during all situational strengths.

Rank

Name

Pos

Age

Yrs

Team

GR

GP

EV

PP

SH

PPG

Total

1

THORNTON,JOE

C

36

16

S.J

20

26

23

11

0

1.31

34

2

CROSBY,SIDNEY

C

28

9

PIT

20

25

25

8

0

1.32

33

3

KUZNETSOV,EVGENY

C

23

0

WSH

18

25

24

8

0

1.28

32

4

LETANG,KRISTOPHER

D

28

8

PIT

20

24

19

8

2

1.21

29

5

KANE,PATRICK

R

27

7

CHI

17

25

20

9

0

1.16

29

6

GETZLAF,RYAN

C

30

9

ANA

19

25

19

8

1

1.12

28

7

KARLSSON,ERIK

D

25

0

OTT

18

26

18

9

0

1.04

27

8

SCHENN,BRAYDEN

C

24

5

PHI

19

26

14

13

0

1.04

27

9

EBERLE,JORDAN

C

25

4

EDM

17

26

18

7

0

0.96

25

10

BACKSTROM,NICKLAS

C

28

7

WSH

18

25

13

12

0

1.00

25

 

 

Top 10 Point Categories Nov.1 – Present

Points accumulated during all situational strengths.

Rank

Name

Pos

Age

Yrs

Team

GR

GP

EV

PP

SH

PPG

Total

1

KANE,PATRICK

R

27

7

CHI

17

53

46

25

0

1.34

71

2

KARLSSON,ERIK

D

25

0

OTT

18

53

35

22

0

1.08

57

3

CROSBY,SIDNEY

C

28

9

PIT

20

50

38

17

0

1.10

55

4

BENN,JAMIE

L

26

5

DAL

17

54

34

16

4

1.00

54

5

THORNTON,JOE

C

36

16

S.J

20

52

35

18

0

1.02

53

6

PAVELSKI,JOE

C

31

8

S.J

20

52

34

18

0

1.00

52

7

SEGUIN,TYLER

C

24

4

DAL

17

54

33

19

0

0.96

52

8

KUZNETSOV,EVGENY

C

23

0

WSH

18

52

37

15

0

1.00

52

9

GAUDREAU,JOHNNY

L

22

0

CGY

19

50

38

13

0

1.02

51

10

GETZLAF,RYAN

C

30

9

ANA

19

49

32

17

1

1.02

50

 

This is all coming on the heels of a less-than-spectacular 65-point campaign a year ago – which is only a minor accomplishment when you’re someone with over 1300 career points. So why the uptick in production during the twilight of his career? Well for one thing, the 18-year vet is converting on more shots than usual. While he’s shooting pucks at around the same clip as normal, his 16 percent personal shooting percentage is almost a full five percent above the average he’s produced at in the last six seasons (11.4). This number is high and could be heading towards a slight regression but is not significantly higher than his career mark of 14.1 percent. With that said, he could very well maintain that number through the final 20 games. Additionally, Thornton is seeing an offensive zone start percentage of 57 – also the highest amount of friendly ice he’s seen in the last six years.

 

The Sharks third ranked power play (22.3 percent) can also be attributed as a cause – and effect – of Thornton’s resurgent campaign. He’s already produced 20 points with the man-advantage, which is good for 17th most in the league and as many as he usually produces during full campaigns since 2010. The answer to this spike may lie with Thornton’s power play and even strength line mate, Joe Pavelski. The only truly consistent winger that Thornton has had in some time is a consistently underrated player who boasts rare offensive gifts.

 

Using Dobber’s Line Combination tool, we can see that the two Joes have spent virtually all their time together, all the while skating with a mixed bag of wingers.. none of which has grabbed a hold of the plum gig for any real length of time.

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

32.21%

EV

HERTL,TOMAS – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE

21.4%

EV

KARLSSON,MELKER – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE

12.76%

EV

DONSKOI,JOONAS – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE

8.3%

EV

PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE – ZUBRUS,DAINIUS

3.29%

EV

MARLEAU,PATRICK – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE

3.24%

EV

GOLDOBIN,NIKOLAY – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE

3.16%

EV

NIETO,MATTHEW – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE

1.66%

EV

COUTURE,LOGAN – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE

0.78%

EV

PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE – WINGELS,TOMMY

 

 

So as we all hold our breath in hopes of one day seeing the Sharks’ assistant captain score four goals and produce a celebration that will set the world on fire, this powerful number one centre remains a supreme set up man that will fill up the score sheet with apples galore on his way to yet another point-per-game season in what has been an illustrious and likely Hall-of-Fame career.

 

For those of you in keeper leagues, if your fantasy deadlines have not yet come and go, this is a player you should be targeting. His age will scare owners from the likely downturn in production set for next season but for the remainder of this year, he will be a top end producer at a cost that shouldn’t break the bank.

 

Plus… he also just seems like a really great guy.

 

 

Projected point-per-game-pace for the remaining schedule: 0.9 – 1.0

 

Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I mostly retweet other people’s witty thoughts and occasionally add my own.