Breaking news: Joe Thornton is really really really good.
Are you a doubter? A heathen? Check out this list of the top ten career scorers among active players:
That's good company, huh? A bunch of all-stars and future hall-of-famers. Anytime you can be on a list with those guys it's an impressive thing, unless it's just like a list of all NHL players or something, I guess.
But wait! Thornton's greatness becomes even MORE apparent if you figure out how many points per game these top ten scorers have averaged over their careers. Behold!
Yeah, that's right.
I think people sometimes forget that Joe Thornton is a young guy, comparatively. His first season was in 97-98, the most recent of any player on this top ten list. Iginla and Alfredsson both started in 95-96, Selanne and Kovalev in 92-93. Assist-first players, which Joe Thornton most definitely is, tend to age well. Guys like Doug Weight and Adam Oates continued to contribute a fair number of assists late into their careers after their goal scoring trailed off. Joe most likely has five to nine productive seasons left in him, so there's a good chance he'll get into the the top 50 all-time scorers before he's done.
As captain this season, Thornton's taken on more defensive responsibility. Joe Thornton leads the league with 113 takeaways, and is currently 23 ahead of second-place in that category, Jonathan Toews. Thornton's seen time on the penalty kill and, recently, has played the left wing in an experiment that really seems to be paying off.
Here are two videos of Thornton doing left-wingy-type-things along the boards:
Cool, huh? Both times Thornton starts the rush and Boyle jumps up in the play, and Thornton can either cover on defense or jump on loose pucks.
Joe's still scoring a bunch this season, second on the team behind the also-awesome Patrick Marleau, and Thornton leads the team in shooting percentage.
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay Joe Thornton!
Bold prediction: Joe Thornton will get his 1,000th career point tonight. Sharks win 3-1 in a tight defensive game, with goals from Couture, Setoguchi, and Wellwood. There are no penalties at all in the entire game, and everyone gets along just fine.
* = Oh, did you notice that's not Dan Ellis in the picture? You racist. You make me sick.