One of the biggest moves of the offseason for the San Jose Sharks was acquiring former Los Angeles Kings backup goaltender Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins. General manager Doug Wilson was looking for a young upgrade at the position and he got his man in Jones, signing him to a three-year, $9M contract.
However, the move does come with a certain level of risk and uncertainty. Jones has made only 34 appearances, 29 starts, at the NHL level and there are concerns about whether he will be able to handle the increased workload that comes with being the number one netminder.
If there’s one person who isn’t worried by what Martin Jones is capable of, it’s Matthew Coller of ESPN Insider. Last week, Coller pegged Jones as one of his bounce-back candidates for the 2015-16 season. Now some of you may be asking how Jones could be a bounce-back option when he only played in 15 games last season?
Well the answer is quite simple. Jones saw a dip in his production as his save percentage dropped from .934 in 2013-14 to .906 last year. Also, his goals-against-average (GAA) rose from 1.81 to 2.25. Here’s a breakdown by Coller as to why he thinks Jones will be fine next season:
"Two seasons ago, Jones got his chance as a starter and performed at a high level with a .934 save percentage. However, Jonathan Quick was healthy last season, relegating Jones to only occasional starts, including sitting 28 days between starts at one point. The rustiness showed up in his numbers as his save percentage dipped to .906. This season, the 25-year-old will be the No. 1 starter for a reloaded Sharks team."
Barring an injury, there’s no way that Jones comes anywhere close to the 28 days between starts. Heck, in the first month or so of the 2015-16 season, Jones should surpass the 11 starts that he made all of last year.
Jones is an extremely gifted player who will get the an opportunity to put his talents on display for the SAP Center fans. While Jones won’t have the benefit of playing behind the sturdy Kings defense, the Sharks have upgraded their defensive unit, and he will have the confidence of an organization that believes in his abilities.
The 2015-16 season will be a great test for Martin Jones to see if he was worth the investment. While San Jose won’t dump him if he has an off season, the Sharks are putting a lot of faith in his limited sample size against NHL competition.
Despite the dip in production last season, Jones is fully capable of seizing the starting role in San Jose, and not relinquishing the title for many years to come. It starts with next year, where Jones will be relied upon to lead the Sharks back to the postseason.
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