Player Preview: Chris Thorburn

Trin Potratz
August 05 2014 12:36PM

When the Jets re-upped Chris Thorburn’s contract to ensure he would remain a Jet for another three years with a substantial raise, a lot of eyebrows were also raised.

Thorburn has been called a ‘character guy’ and ‘a real team player’, but his on-ice performance and usefulness is falling quite drastically.

Players like Thorburn are becoming slightly irrelevant in the NHL nowadays, and usually have to plan out there lives throughout contract year after contract year, meaning they normally have to settle for one-year deals every season. Nope. Not Thorburn. Cheveldayoff felt comfortable enough giving a character guy a three-year deal that kicks in this season for a player that scored two goals, and posted a ghastly 43.3% Corsi despite playing weak competition and often beginning in the offensive zone. 

PERFORMANCE

Thorburn Extra Skater

Thorburn was a 2nd round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, and he was able to perform well enough in the OHL to receive and NHL contract.

He began his career in the AHL with the Rochester Americans and played three full seasons before seeing the ice in the big leagues. After short stints with the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins, Thorburn latched on to the Atlanta Thrashers where he had his most productive years.

Thorburn posted seasons of 18, 15, 13, and 19 points during his four years as a Thrasher before the team relocated to Winnipeg, and was considered a vital part of a club that never made the playoffs and frequently underachieved.

Thorburn’s game has not really progressed, and at 31 years old, it’s hard to expect he’ll get better to any capacity, and players of his calibre tend to slowly fade out once they hit their thirties, but Cheveldayoff felt it was a good idea to give this guy three more years for some ungodly reason.

EXPECTATIONS

MakeThingsBetter

The highest window of production for Thorburn is likely a mere 15 points, but it’s highly possible that he doesn’t even reach that checkpoint. While offense is not what he’s counted on for, it would be nice to see the guy with a big three-year contract contribute a little bit more.

Jets fans should hope that Thorburn can at least be an effective penalty killer and not get completely burned and hemmed up in the defensive zone when he is on the ice.

It is sad to say that his Corsi over the last four years has been on the wrong side of 50%, with the lockout-shortened season being his highest rating at 48.9%.

Thorburn will likely have to play on the team’s fourth line and anything above that is just simply brain damage from the coach (cough….Noel….cough). When Claude Noel had Thorburn on the 3rd line, fans were close to losing their minds.

The expectation fans should have is when to expect Thorburn’s demotion and buyout before his three-year contract is up.

Also, kudos to his agent.

MAJOR QUESTIONS

 1.     Is Thorburn’s character enough to keep him in the lineup?

After signing the scrappy Thorburn to a three-year deal, the biggest thing that was mentioned that led to the extension was Thorburn’s character and the fact that he was well-liked in the dressing room. We all know Cheveldayoff likes these kind of guys, and it’s also a big part of why Mark Stuart was signed to a ridiculous extension. Should someone tell Cheveldayoff that there are useful players that can be liked in the dressing room? I’m all for paying respect to these kind of players but when you’re a team trying to get into the playoffs, you have to remember that this is a business. I bet Paul Bissonette could use a three-year deal….he’s a well-liked guy….

2.     Will Thorburn spend more time in the press box than the ice?

With a large array of forwards competing for a spot on the opening night lineup, is it possible that Thorburn ends up spending so much time in the pressbox? Players like Galiardi, Kosmachuk, Klingberg and O’Dell will all be fighting for a job and Thorburn’s contract keeps him on the team, but that doesn’t mean it will keep him on the ice. Maybe he’ll be motivated.

3.     Can Thorburn prove he is worth his new contract?

The biggest question for sure. This extension won’t be such a bad idea if Thorburn all-of-a-sudden finds a scoring niche and produces 25 points (don’t count on it) and improves his Corsi while being a key penalty killer. Even with the cap going up, I don’t see this deal ($1.2m per) as a good one in any sort of light.

SEASON POINT PROJECTIONS

BLAKE WHEELER      81GP 21-40-61

CHRIS THORBURN    56GP 2-7-9

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Potratz is SAIT Journalism graduate and has worked as a reporter for the Grande Prairie Daily-Herald Tribune and Strathmore Standard. After keeping his own personal blog at www.potratzhockey.com he aspired to join the Nation Network. Follow him on Twitter @PotratzHockey
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#1 Thx1138
August 07 2014, 08:19AM
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Any notion that Thorburn will be bought out before the contract is up is not going to happen. He will play every game he has been signed to play...just like Pavelec will. Thorburn will not be in the press box due to his diminished skills...he'll be taking a roster spot for three years that a younger player should have a shot at. That is the real mistake of this signing.

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#2 Robert Cleave
August 07 2014, 03:56PM
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It's an openly silly contract, and THX1138's point above is my real concern. The Jets were too cheap to buyout the one guy that's done more than anyone else to hold them back, so Thor will get his chances. He's almost certainly going to block a potentially useful player's ascension to the roster.

I did have to laugh at Chevy mentioning the Chara fight as a point in Thor's favour and a unifying force for the team. That fight happened January 4th. The Jets lost that game as well as the next 3, and then fired Noel, so implying it was a good moment for team building seems to be based on some pretty thin evidence.

The only positive thing I can say is that if he's been primarily re-signed to keep a buddy for Kane around, at least he's cheaper than Tyler Bozak.

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#3 Jibmeister
August 10 2014, 11:02PM
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Who the heck is his agent!?! Ridiculous contract.

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