Sharks re-sign birthday boy Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl

The San Jose Sharks have re-signed centre Joe Thornton to a one-year contract.

The team announced the deal on Thornton’s 39th birthday Monday. Thornton tested the free-agent market last summer before returning to San Jose on a one-year, $8 million deal but was intent the whole time this year on staying with the Sharks.

“Joe has become one of the faces of this franchise since his arrival in 2005 and we feel it’s only fitting that he will be wearing teal going forward,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement released by the team. “He is a generational playmaker and his accomplishments place him amongst the elite players to ever play the game.

“Nobody loves the game of hockey more than Joe Thornton and his leadership on and off the ice have been instrumental in this franchise’s success.”

The move to bring back Thornton comes a day after the Sharks lost out on getting John Tavares as their top-line centre. Tavares signed a seven-year, $77-million US deal with Toronto instead.

Thornton was performing at a high level before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in January. Thornton had a similar injury to his left knee late last season and played four playoff games before off-season surgery but wasn’t able to make it back this year.

He had 13 goals and 23 assists in 47 games this past season.

Acquired from the Boston Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005, Thornton has 745 assists and 973 points in 961 games with the Sharks to rank first in assists, points per game (1.01) and plus-minus (plus-172) in that time.

In 2006-07, Thornton became only the third player in NHL history to have back-to-back 90-plus assist seasons (96 in 2005-06, 92 in 2006-07), joining Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Hertl inks 4-year deal

Also Monday, San Jose re-signed forward Tomas Hertl for four years after the 24-year-old posted 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists) in 79 games this past season. He added nine points in 10 post-season contests.

The fifth-year NHL centre finished the 2017-18 campaign second on the team in takeaways (60), tied for second in goals, fourth in power-play goals (six) while also leading the Sharks in game-winning goals (five) and faceoff wins (587). 

Wilson said the native of Prague boasts one of the more infectious personalities in the club’s dressing room.

“Tomas took a big step forward last season, both on and off the ice, and we feel that he is just starting to hit his prime,” the GM added. “He has the ability to be a dominant player in this league and proved during the playoffs that he can take over any given game with his combination of skill and strength.”

In 328 career NHL games, all with San Jose, Hertl has registered 170 points (81-89) and a plus-12 rating.