Today, the San Jose Sharks acquired goaltender Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins for a 2016 first-round pick and unsigned draft pick Sean Kuraly. That first rounder should turn out to be at the end of the first round next year, because Jones is a legitimate goaltender with the potential to steal games every night—and he just may be the best goaltender the Sharks have ever had on their roster in two-plus decades of NHL hockey.
Seriously, we didn’t know General Manager Doug Wilson had it in him. Goodbye, Antti Niemi; hello, Mr. Jones—welcome to San Jose. We love you already.
Jones was the backup in Los Angeles to Jonathan Quick for awhile, and he was on the Stanley Cup championship team in 2014. His career numbers so far in 34 NHL games—16-11-2, 1.99 goals-against average and .923 save percentage—are stellar, and Jones is just 25 with a lot of NHL starts in front of him.
“Martin was at the top of our list of players that we had targeted,” Wilson said in a released statement. “We’re extremely excited to have him on board.”
Indeed: The Kings never would have traded Jones to the Sharks, but when L.A. shipped him to Boston on draft day, that changed everything—and now the Sharks have their goalie for the present and the future. Say goodbye to those third-period meltdowns that cost San Jose dearly during the seemingly endless Niemi Era.
In addition to his NHL experience, the Sharks new No. 1 goalie also has international success: Jones played for Canada at the 2015 World Championships (2-0, 1.50 GAA, .921 SV%) on the way to a gold-medal finish.
Oh yes, perhaps 2015-16 will be the year that San Jose joins the rest of the Bay Area’s professional sports teams with a championship of their own. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Wilson may have just pulled off the first huge move on the way to making the Stanley Cup in Silicon Valley a reality.
A quick look at the Sharks’ goaltending history shows us some truths, too: Yes, Jones’ career is very short right now, but his GAA and SV% would already be the best in San Jose history right now (once he qualified with enough games started). Evgeni Nabokov was the goalie who always played just well enough to lose and avoid criticism; Niemi won a Cup with Chicago as a rookie, and he never could close the door for the Sharks when they needed him to.
Jones immediately surpasses those two as perhaps the best raw talent the organization has ever had at the position, and that’s reason enough to get very, very excited for the upcoming season.