The 2015-16 NHL season is less than one month away, meaning all the questions surrounding new San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones can start to be answered on the ice rather than in this writing space here.
According to Matthew Coller of ESPN Insider, Jones is a goalie to keep your eye on and draft with regards to fantasy hockey amongst those that found a new home this offseason. Jones is an extremely talented netminder who has flourished in a backup role to Jonathan Quick with the Los Angeles Kings over the past two seasons.
Now, Jones gets his chance with the San Jose Sharks to assume the number one role and prove that he is worth the first-round pick San Jose gave up to acquire him. Jones, who stands 6-foot-4, has done well in his limited opportunities at the NHL level.
In 34 career games, including 29 starts, Jones is 16-11-2 with a 1.99 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage. Also, Jones has already posted seven shutouts in his brief NHL career which is almost a quarter of the games he’s started. Pretty staggering numbers.
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Now there are two questions surrounding Jones that makes him a gamble: Was he a bi-product of playing behind the Kings’ defensive structure and can he hold up over a full, 82-game NHL schedule?
The San Jose Sharks ranked 24th a season ago in goals against and looked inept for many stretches. However, general manager Doug Wilson addressed the issue by bringing in a veteran such as Paul Martin to help stabilize the back end. Also, Brent Burns will have another year of experience under his belt which should help, and the Sharks have five, solid NHL defensemen who should be much better.
Now, the second question is one that will be played out during the regular season. Obviously, there should be a little bit of an expected drop-off with Jones’ numbers during his first year as a starting netminder. However, it’s also not out of the realm of possibilities that Jones lives up to those expectations. Jones is the big, athletic goaltender that San Jose has never had.
With all the disappointment that surrounded the San Jose Sharks last season, expect this group to bounce-back and try to make a last ditch run at the Stanley Cup. Jones will play a big factor in any success the Sharks have this year, and Coller expects Jones and the rest of his San Jose teammates to regain their form, making him a very worthwhile fantasy target.