Sharks

Jones in line for big raise if Sharks can get him signed

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USATI

Jones in line for big raise if Sharks can get him signed

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.

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

Something smells fishy about Sharks' early success on power play

By many traditional measures, the Sharks’ power play is off to a strong start.

They’ve scored seven times on 30 opportunities, including once in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders. That mark, 23.3%, would have been good enough for third in the league last season, and is nearly seven percent better than the Sharks were in 2016-17.

San Jose’s made some changes on the man advantage, and are getting a different look on their top power play unit with Tim Heed there instead of another forward. Second-year forward Kevin Labanc is playing a significant role on the second unit, operating as something of a focal point.

The puck’s found the net a lot for the Sharks on the power play, but a deeper look at the numbers reveals that success may be a house of cards.

According to Natural Stat Trick, San Jose ranks in the bottom third of the league in shots, shot attempts, and unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes. Using those rates allow us to compare teams empirically, equalizing for the amount of time each team has spent on the power play. Those rates, by the way, are not very good.

And each of those are lower than last season, when the Sharks finished 25th in power play percentage. This season, the Sharks are converting more shots, despite attempting less.

It would be tempting to think San Jose can hang their helmets on higher shot quality, but they’ve struggled in that area, too. The Sharks finished just shy of the top ten in high danger chances per 60 minutes last season, but are in the bottom third of the league this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.

So the Sharks are shooting at a lower rate and generating chances at a lower rate than last season, when they had one of the league’s worst power plays, but are scoring at a much higher clip. They’ve converted on about 19% of their shots on the power play, almost doubling their conversion rate (10.5%) from a season ago.

If this doesn’t seem like a sustainable mix, that’s because it’s not. In a small sample size of seven games, the power play’s been good enough, but the Sharks can’t count on converting nearly a fifth of their power play opportunities if they continue to struggle generating shots and chances.

Of course, stranger things have happened in a hockey season, so it’s possible the Sharks can ride a sky-high shooting percentage all season long. Banking on that, however, would be foolhardy.

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

Sharks come up short in New York despite Couture's hat trick

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Anders Lee had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

John Tavares had a goal and two assists, Josh Bailey added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Ladd also scored to help the Islanders win for the third time in four games. Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots.

Logan Couture scored all three goals for the Sharks, completing the hat trick with 1:52 remaining to pull them within one. Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves.

Ladd's goal at 3:12 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Rookie Mathew Barzal created the scoring chance by taking the puck around the net and then setting up Ladd in the high slot for his second of the season.

Lee's second of the game and fifth of the season gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion with 8:13 remaining as he converted an odd-man rush.

Tavares sealed the win with an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds remaining and helped improve to 22-4-4 in their two-plus seasons at Barclays Center. Tavares points were his first since he had two goals and an assist Oct. 7 against Buffalo, ending a five-game drought.

The Sharks scored the game's opening goal at 6:26 of the second period on the power play. San Jose came away with the offensive draw and Couture scored from the slot, redirected Brent Burns' point shot past Greiss.

The lead lasted just over a minute as Nick Leddy worked his way to the back of the net and then quickly fed Lee for the tying goal.

The Islanders went ahead 58 seconds later after Joe Thornton made a costly turnover in his own end to give Bailey a point-blank chance. Bailey was able to sneak the puck with a backhander between his skates and past Dell to put New York ahead 2-1.

However, an impressive effort by Jannik Hansen to spin past Brock Nelson in the neutral zone led to a quick feed to Couture, who took a few strides and then fired a shot past Greiss to even the score once again.

NOTES: The Islanders held a special pregame ceremony to honor alumni of the organization who were in town for an Islanders Alumni Weekend. Among the players on the ice were Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier and Ed Westfall. ... The Islanders scratched D Scott Mayfield, F Josh Ho-Sang and F Nikulay Kulemin. ... San Jose scratched F Joel Ward, F Barclay Goodrow and D Dylan Demelo. ... The Islanders honored Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie by playing music from the band during warmups. Downie passed away on Oct. 17 after succumbing to brain cancer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Islanders: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.