One of the more important items on general manager Doug Wilson’s agenda this offseason is signing goalie Martin Jones to a long-term contract extension. Wilson has already called it a priority to get something done with the 27-year-old who has established himself as one of the league’s better starters, after Jones helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and made his first appearance in the NHL All-Star Game in 2017.
How much could Jones – who is set to enter the final year of his three-year, $9 million deal – stand to make? There have already been a couple notable goalie contracts handed out since the regular season ended, providing an indication.
Simply put, Jones, who would be unrestricted in 2018, is in line to get a healthy raise.
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Last week, the goalie-starved Dallas Stars acquired Ben Bishop’s rights from the Los Angeles Kings, and promptly signed him to a six-year, $29.5 million contract ($4.92 AAV).
Bishop has more experience than Jones as a starter, but the vital numbers are similar. In 270 career games, Bishop has a 2.32 goals-against average and .919 save percentage, while Jones has a 2.27 GAA and .916 career save percentage in 164 games.
Bishop and Jones also have comparable – and solid – playoff numbers. While Bishop is 21-13 with a 2.09 GAA and .927 SP in the postseason, Jones is 16-14 with a 2.01 GAA and .925 SP. In the first round against Edmonton, Jones was hardly the reason the Sharks lost in six games, as he got just seven goals of support in games not including the 7-0 Sharks blowout win in Game 4.
The biggest difference between Bishop and Jones is age, as the 30-year-old Bishop is more than three years older. That should make the Sharks goalie more valuable, as he’s entering the prime years of his career.
The other contract to look at is Scott Darling. The backup to Corey Crawford in Chicago was dealt to Carolina on April 28, and promptly signed a four-year, $16.6 million contract. He’ll presumably take over the starter’s role there.
While Darling put up some good numbers in Chicago – he’s 39-17-9 with a 2.37 GAA and .923 SP in his career – he’s still just played 75 games in the NHL in front of one of the best teams in the league over that span. That he signed a contract with a $4.15 AAV is indicative of how much NHL teams are willing to pay for good goaltending, even if those goaltenders haven’t yet proved themselves as a number one.
Jones, who has proven himself after the Sharks took a similar chance, has already expressed his desire to sign a long-term deal with San Jose. There’s no reason to believe there are any major obstacles to getting something done.
Based on what has happened so far this summer, the guess here is Jones’ average annual salary settles somewhere in the $5.5 – $6 million range if a multi-year deal is struck, as he's simply more valuable than either Bishop or Darling.
Talks are allowed to begin on July 1.