The Florida Panthers added a wealth of experience on Friday as they signed former Boston and San Jose captain Joe Thornton to a one-year deal.
The 42-year-old scored five goals with 20 points in 44 games with the Maple Leafs last season.
Thornton, who has yet to win the Stanley Cup, signed on for the league-minimum of $750,000 for next season.
He said Friday that there is no doubt he is still chasing that elusive championship — and the Panthers are close to it.
“I watched their team last year, I love their team,” Thornton said from his offseason home in Switzerland.
“I love what they’re building and I’m excited to be part of it. But everything is about ultimately winning the Stanley Cup and the Panthers are right there in my opinion.”
Thornton credited GM Bill Zito, coach Joel Quenneville and advisor Roberto Luongo for making him feel comfortable. Thornton said he had the contract with Florida for weeks and finally got around to signing it Friday.
“With more than 1,600 games played in the NHL, Joe will bring a wealth of experience to our locker room and lineup,” Florida GM Bill Zito said in a statement released by the team.
“His drive to succeed is unmistakable and we are thrilled that he chose to sign with our club and that he believes in what we are building here in South Florida.”
Thornton has appeared in 1,680 games with the Boston Bruins (1997-06), San Jose Sharks (2005-20) and Toronto (2020-21), which stands as the second-most games played of any active NHL player.
It is the sixth-most games played all time.
Thornton has scored 1,529 points (425-1,104-1,529) over his career, which leads all active NHL skaters.
A native of London, Ontario, Thornton is a six-time All-Star and won both the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Trophy in 2005-06 after leading the league with 96 assists and 125 points.
Thornton led the NHL in assists for three consecutive seasons, in 2005-06 (96), 2006-07 (92) and 2007-08 (67).