Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Martin Jones, G
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $3 million, signed through 2017-18
2014-15 year in review: In 15 games with the Los Angeles Kings, Martin Jones was 4-5-2 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Jones also was a part of Todd McLellan’s Team Canada squad at the World Championships, going 2-0 and allowing just three goals (1.50 GAA).
Jones’ early accomplishments include becoming the fastest NHL goalie to record seven career shutouts, beating the Maple Leafs on Jan. 13 in his 29th career game.
Jones was dealt to the Boston Bruins at the NHL draft as part of the deal for Milan Lucic, before the Bruins flipped him to San Jose on June 30 for a 2016 first round draft pick and prospect Sean Kuraly. The Sharks promptly signed Jones to a three-year, $9 million deal.
2015-16 outlook: One of the inevitable changes to the Sharks’ roster over the summer was the goaltending position, as Antti Niemi’s five-year run as the starter came to an abrupt end. Now that Martin Jones has arrived, no single player will be more in focus in training camp –- and the season, for that matter -– than the former backup to Jonathan Quick, who will be expected to take the reigns as the number one goalie for now and the future.
Giving up so much for Jones is undoubtedly a risk for general manager Doug Wilson, especially for a team that missed the postseason (keep in mind, every non-playoff team will now eligible to win the draft lottery). Still, Wilson was insistent that Jones was a guy they were high on all along, despite the goalie having just 34 games of NHL experience.
There’s reason to believe it’s the right move, though. Jones is big, at six-foot-four, 187 pounds. He’s had success at every level, including being named the WHL Goaltender of the Year in 2010, and following that up with strong numbers in the American Hockey League. When he got his chance as the starter for the Kings in December, 2013, all he did was lead his team to wins in each of his first eight career starts (including three shutouts).
Of course, that success was in front of a Stanley Cup-caliber defense, and that’s something the Sharks lacked last season. If that improves (and the addition of Paul Martin should help), and Jones becomes the goalie the Sharks believe he will become, then a postseason berth should be achievable. If not, it could be a long season in San Jose.