Name: Shawn Thornton
Position: Left wing
Status: UFA — $550,000
Regular season, EV: 22.98% w/Steve Begin and Daniel Paille
Regular season, EV: 18.24% w/Begin and Byron Bitz
Playoffs, EV: 30.98% w/Begin and Paille
Playoffs, EV: 24.18% w/Begin and Trent Whitfield
The Good: A notorious face and voice for the Boston Bruins, Thornton has been the B’s enforcer for the past three seasons. And just like every season, Thornton has made the best out of his limited ice time — 7:08 average TOI in 127 shifts in the playoffs and 9:02 TOI during the regular season — in his fourth-line grinding and policing role. The Oshawa, Ontario, native ranked amongst the top in the league with 21 fighting majors; always answering the bell when it was time and having his team’s back.
With tremendous tenacity and all-out-effort, Thornton is generally the last player off the ice during a line change, dumping the puck in and forchecking. No. 22 is a solid leader and a smart character player both on and off the ice, and for the money, is an absolute no-brainer to re-sign before Jul. 1.
The Bad: Can you really ask this guy for a little bit more offense averaging under 10 minutes per game? I don’t think so. Some ‘critics’ even call Thornton out for following “The Code” too strictly. But that’s why he’s so well respected among his teammates, and other enforcers around the league.
When it comes to fourth-line grinders who play limited minutes, Thornton does it among the best. When he’s a healthy scratch during the season or even in the playoffs in favor of other players, Thornton takes the seat in the press box like a true professional. He’s a hard-working, soldier of a hockey player who is much more valuable to this team than on the surface.
And for $550K this year, Thornton’s services should deem him a bump in pay next season. And it’s the tab that Chiarelli absolutely must pick up.
Next report card: No. 26 Blake Wheeler