Mar 21, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin (7) looks to shoot the puck during the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The San Jose Sharks had needs in goal and on the blue line this offseason, and general manager Doug Wilson addressed both positions with assistance from some familiar faces.
Yesterday, the Sharks signed free-agent defenseman Paul Martin to a four-year, $19.4M contract. According to Martin, Larry Robinson’s presence with San Jose was a big help in his decision to join the Sharks.
Also, Martin was a teammate of Joe Pavelski at the 2014 Sochi Olympics for Team USA, and Pavelski’s influence was likely at play as well. Martin, like Pavelski, could serve as a key leader for a San Jose team that is looking to rebound after a poor second-half a season ago. Martin was drawn to the Sharks because they clearly targeted him and he believes the group there can win.
Martin, who now becomes the elder statesman of the San Jose blue line, will serve as a model for the rest of the Sharks defenseman. New head coach Peter DeBoer sees Martin fitting in alongside Brent Burns as a steadying presence, and he should be a big factor in improving the Sharks penalty killing unit.
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Furthermore, the Martin Jones trade was another sign of the new staff being comfortable with the skill sets of the player they acquired. Jones was a goalie with Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Championships, which DeBoer served as an assistant coach.
DeBoer said Jones is very calm, a characteristic that many great goaltenders have. Also, the Sharks are familiar with Jones’ talents from having a very difficult time scoring against him from his time with the Los Angeles Kings. In three career games against San Jose, Jones record a .946 save percentage, a 1.29 goals-against-average, and allowed just three goals.
Wilson has taken a lot of heat after the Sharks missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons, and that criticism was well deserved. However, his moves this offseason have helped shore up some of the holes that were left unresolved last season.
His self-described rebuild is now over and San Jose is now focused on winning. That focus, along with some helpful familiarity, has allowed the Sharks to bring in key pieces that should help them greatly during the 2015-16 season.