Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Sharks insider Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every weekday leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Martin Jones, G
Salary cap hit: $3 million, signed through 2017-18
2015-16 year in review: There were a number of questions about the Sharks heading into last season, none bigger than how the club’s young, inexperienced new goalie would hold up in his first season as a number one. Doug Wilson surrendered a first round pick and a prospect to Boston to nab the former Kings backup, and Jones was going to make the general manager look like a genius, or potentially get him fired.
The former happened, of course, and it seems as if the Sharks have a new franchise goalie. Jones promptly set a new Sharks shutout streak in the first week of the regular season, struggled in November and December, but rebounded over the second half of the season to finish third in the NHL in wins (37), tied for second in shutouts (6), ninth in goals-against average (2.27) and with a respectable .918 save percentage.
Jones was even better in the playoffs, posting a 14-10 record, 2.16 GAA and .923 SP, giving the Sharks the kind of postseason goaltending they had simply never had in the 25-year history of the franchise.
2016-17 outlook: Obviously, Jones is still the number one starter, especially after backup James Reimer moved on to Florida as a free agent. And, even though he’s coming off of an impressive season, there’s a long list of NHL goaltenders that look great one year but quickly fade. I don’t see that happening with Jones, who seems to have the size, work ethic and demeanor to succeed for a long time in the league, but he does still have to prove that he can give his team a consistent yearly performance.
If there were one specific area that Jones could improve upon during the regular season it would be his play at home. The goalie posted a save percentage of just .909 at SAP Center last season, while he had a dazzling .925 SP on the road. It was a big reason the Sharks were among the NHL’s worst teams in their own building, but one of the best away.
Jones’ workload will also be something to monitor. In the first half of the year, when an unreliable Alex Stalock backed him up, Jones had to play nearly every night and seemed to wear down by Christmas. He thrived in the second half when Reimer was acquired, and getting that time to rest likely aided him during the Sharks’ two-month playoff run. Currently, the unproven Aaron Dell is listed second on the depth chart.
If Jones is able to duplicate the kind of season he had last year, expect the Sharks to try and lock him up long term next summer before he enters the final year of his contract.