Brooks gives details on Thornton and hints at Bozak
When the list of free agents came out at the end of the NHL season, one name that was thought to be a good fit for the Blueshirts was Joe Thornton. Jumbo Joe would have been perfect for what the Rangers needed: a center with plenty of leadership, is good in the faceoff circle, plays a 200-foot game and will put up points.
Now that Thornton has re-signed with the Sharks, details are starting to come out about what happened when the Rangers talked to the grizzled veteran. Larry Brooks reports that Jeff Gorton had “extended, productive talks with Joe Thornton” before he ultimately chose to head back to the Bay Area.
There have been some rumblings about the availability of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak. The 31-year-old center is in the final year of his contract, making $4.2 million and has a modified no-trade-clause attached to it. Bozak could be a valuable “rental” player should he be moved. As Brooks noted, his ice time in Toronto has gone down from 21 minutes per game to roughly 16.5 minutes over the last four years. Bozak has similar production to the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and is just as good, if not better, at the faceoff dot.
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One name from the Rangers that could be involved in a potential deal is defenseman Nick Holden. Holden is also in the final year of his contract, and with Jeff Gorton stockpiling blue line prospects during the spring, he was unlikely to have his contract renewed at the end of next season. The Leafs have a very young defensive core, with six of their seven defensemen being 27 years old and younger. Holden could slide in and be a veteran presence for Mike Babcock’s squad and at $1.65 million, Toronto would get some additional cap room as well.
Again, this is just a rumor, but it is one that if the trade was made, it would benefit both sides.