SAN JOSE -- John Thornton, who does double duty as Sharks captain Joe Thornton's agent and brother, liked the news this week that the NHL salary cap is expected to climb to $71 million next season, which is higher than many expected.
But not because Joe Thornton will be seeking a more lucrative contract extension than the three-year deal in the vicinity of $21 million that previously had been proposed to general manager Doug Wilson.
"I don't think it impacts us, but it makes it easier on Doug and on the team to get all three done," John Thornton said.
From Thornton's vantage point, his brother's contract is linked to negotiations with two other San Jose mainstays -- Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle -- whose contracts also expire at the end of this season.
Wilson will not discuss ongoing negotiations, but he said before the season that bargaining talks had begun with all three veterans. He also suggested that the goal is to keep them in San Jose while rewarding younger players such as Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic with well-deserved raises.
John Thornton does not share Wilson's reluctance to talk about the situation and offered a look at the process from his own perspective, noting that both he and the Sharks were working under the assumption that the salary cap increase would be less than the $6.7 million bump over this year's $64.3 million.
The agent added that his brother should have a new deal before his old one expires, but he was unsure when.
"I really don't know," he said. "From our standpoint, I think Doug is trying to get all three done, so it's just a different circumstance."
The situation, John Thornton added, is complicated by the fact Marleau's longtime agent, Don Baizley, died last summer and Marleau has not chosen someone else to represent him.
Boyle's agent, George Bazos, said Friday that talks with Wilson had not reached the point where either side had placed a number on the table.
"We expect at some point they'll try to get everybody done, but at this point we're just kind of waiting and hoping they win a lot of games," Bazos said. "We kicked around some ideas. You know, it depends on the number of years, a lot of moving parts. I wouldn't say we have a real number. We haven't gotten that far."
If Joe Thornton is indeed close to a new deal, his brother said it had a lot to do with the big center's approach.
For one thing, the Sharks captain long has preferred three-year deals rather than the lengthier contracts sought by others with his credentials. And though the 34-year-old Thornton, whose 29 assists this season are second best in the NHL, could likely earn more as a free agent, he seems satisfied maintaining the salary level he's had in the past.
Thornton's 2013-14 salary is $6 million, though his current contract carries a $7 million cap hit. Thornton was paid $8 million in the first year of the contract and $7 million last season.
"I wish Joe would be going for a lot more money because of my commission, but Joe's just going to be Joe," his agent said. "You're not going to really see surprises from him."
While the league's governors provided the $71 million estimate this week at their Pebble Beach meetings, there were doubters, especially with the Canadian dollar in decline. The cap is figured in U.S. dollars, and any drop in the Canadian dollar value would be reflected in the spending limit.
Sharks (20-6-6) at Nashville (15-14-3), 5 p.m. CSNCA