Without his ligament tears, Thornton is easily the number one free agent center on the market. With them, he still may be, but the gap is closer than it would be otherwise.
Pros: This list could be incredibly long, but let me try to summarize. He is a no-doubt future Hall of Famer, one of the best passers this generation has ever seen, a proven leader and still at age 37, probably a top 15 center in the game. He would instantly make an impact in New York.
Thornton has all of the tools that make an elite center. Even at his age, his play hasn’t deteriorated that much. In 12 years, he has averaged just over a point per game. His lowest total, excluding the lockout year, was 50 points last season. A regression is expected at Thornton’s age, but a regression from a player of his caliber will still give you 50-60 points a year.
Cons: There have been reports that Thornton is looking for a three year deal. With his knee issues and age in general, that raises a red flag. If there were a health guarantee, then sign me up. However, there is no such thing in sports and that immediately makes Thornton a risky play.
Jumbo Joe is a great player and would make the Rangers incredibly skilled and deep at center, but health is a logical concern. Not to mention that Thornton wouldn’t play into the Rangers speed aspect. Certainly that is a something the team could deal with, but another knee injury could mark the end of Thornton’s career and that’s something New York couldn’t deal with.