Player Preview: Chris Thorburn

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

  • Stewsquared

    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.

  • Robert Cleave

    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.