The Sharks officially moved on from goalie Martin Jones on Tuesday, placing him on unconditional waivers to buy out the final three years of his contract, which was originally signed in 2018.
Actions, comments, and indications across the last six months didn’t make this a tremendous a surprise, but it still qualifies as a “wow” magnitude maneuver for the Sharks, their first of this summer, and likely not their only -- if a drastically different outcome is in the cards for the 2021-22 NHL season.
Here are three takeaways from what truly is the end of a certain era in San Jose.
Rollercoaster ride ends
Jones had a unique and unfortunate trajectory in San Jose. His first season was eye-catching: allowing two goals in the first four games, and ultimately leading his team to their first Stanley Cup Final eight months later.
Jones was a backbone of that deep 2015-16 squad, made even sweeter in how he was acquired: from the division rival Los Angeles Kings via a second-hand trade with the Boston Bruins. All of that distant memory compared to 2021, where 12 of his 34 outings qualified as “really bad starts” by hockey-reference.com, whereas save percentages in those games were below .850.
So much for the “highs and lows” of a player’s tenure in one town, Jones seemed to thrive in all the beginnings, and struggle through the latter years.
A postseason performer
Playoff Martin Jones was a different animal. And the stats prove it: 60 starts, a .916 save percentage, and a 2.41 goals against average in the postseason. But the eye test tells a better story, specifically in his “worst” playoff season of 2018-19.
Jones was pulled twice in the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first four games alone, but after that, he rebounded as the hero of Game 6 (59 saves on the road), which led to that historic Game 7 comeback.
A healthy Jones was one of the only reasons San Jose advanced past Colorado, to Game 6 of the Western Conference Final against St. Louis in 2019.
Both sides needed this
It’s rare in sports that a buyout seemingly benefits both sides, but that instinctually feels like what has happening here. When Jones struggled in the first four seasons with the Sharks, it was often tied to team lapses in defense. But the last two campaigns it became evident, trends weren’t improving with ample opportunity and approaches.
Fresh scenery is bound to benefit Jones, and perhaps the best compliment he could be paid is a true statement -- the hope that he doesn’t resurface in the Pacific Division. Because his career stats, playoff performances, and potential for a bargain will undoubtedly entice other NHL teams sooner than later.
As for the Sharks, newly created cap space and fresh faces are a priority, which now brings the opportunity to acquire another veteran goalie to compliment the recently traded Adin Hill.