“He should be playing somewhere,” Thornton said Tuesday via Sharks beat reporter Kevin Kurz. “I expect he’ll be somewhere soon. He skates with us in the summer and he’s still the best skater on the ice.”
Marleau, who turned 40 in September, spent the past two seasons with the Maple Leafs after 19 years in the Sharks organization. The winger potted 27 goals and 20 assists in his first 82 games with the blue and white before a 16-goal, 37-point effort in his second year in Toronto.
The No. 2 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft was a casualty of a dire Maple Leafs salary cap situation that culminated with the team trading his $6.25-million average annual value to Carolina in July before the Hurricanes bought him out of the final year of his contract thus making him a free agent.
“Part of the reason I think he didn’t end up with a team to this point is he’s being selective about where he goes, wants to stay close to home with his family back in San Jose,” Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said Saturday during Hockey Night in Canada. “And he was focused on the Sharks into July, and ultimately they chose to go another direction. But he remains confident that he’s going to get another job this season.”
Despite not being on an NHL roster at the start of the season, Marleau’s impressive ironman streak of 788 games remains intact should he get signed and activated by a team.
Marleau’s 1,657 career regular-season games played ranks fifth all-time and his 551 goals ranks 28th in NHL history.