“I’d like to play like Joe Thornton does right now. I try to mold my game around his. If you say four years, three years down the road, if I could be where he is, then I’d be pretty happy.” – Rick Nash.

I remember the Joe Thornton trade well. 2005-2006 season. Both the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks were at or near the bottom of the league. It was Thornton, then as he is now, a premiere power forward in exchange for Wayne Primeau (center), Brad Stuart (defense) and our short-lived friend, Marco Sturm (left wing). I don’t recall if any picks went the other way but each of the three players that went to Boston were former first round picks and each of them were fairly young. Joe Thornton was entering his prime.

What I had to look up were the salary numbers. Big Joe was making $6.6 million at the time and was signed for a few years. The three players that went the other way were making a combined $5 million.

At the time, the Sharks were struggling and trying to find their identity. Their Dean Lombardi years were 2 + years behind them and they needed to make a statement trade to get the franchise back on track.

In foresight, it was a good hockey trade. In hindsight, it was a great one. The Sharks added star power. Putting Thornton and Patrick Marleau together give them a dynamic duo of sorts. It was the beginning of San Jose’s rise as a contender.

So here we are. We all “sweat” Rick Nash’s cap hit going into another round of CBA negotiations (even though $6.3 million in salary cap room is going the other way if it becomes Johnson, Bernier and Loktionov). Could the cap go down? Could the cap go up? We could sit here and worry about the cap while other teams are busy trying to win cups. San Jose made the Joe Thornton trade with balls and brains. Can Dean channel each of his?