Early on during the yearly event known as the Free Agent Frenzy, word had it that the Seattle Kraken were bringing in UFA goaltender Martin Jones. A one year deal, at $2 million, it was one of the first goalie signings of the summer, though far from the most notable. He replaces the injured Chris Driedger, whose unfortunate injury suffered at the World Championships rules him out for much of (if not all of) the 2022-23 season.
A backup during the initial years of his career behind the great Jonathan Quick, earning his name on the Stanley Cup in 2014, Jones vaulted into a starting role when he moved to the San Jose Sharks after the following season. From less than twenty starts per season, the young netminder jumped to 60 or more for the next three years, and his numbers held up relatively well behind a Sharks team that was still seen as a yearly contender. He even made the NHL all-star team in 2017, but things began to fall off as the team in front of him transitioned into a rebuild.
Recent stats are less flattering
An odd stat about Jones is that his goals against average (GAA) has gone up every single year of his career. An otherworldly 1.81 as a rookie, his mark progressed steadily upward each season since, including an unflattering 3.42 in his most recent campaign. It’s worth noting that scoring across the league has gone up over that period, but Jones caught up to the league average in 2019 and left it in the dust the past two years.
Those seasons were played on a far worse Sharks club, and then a struggling Philadelphia Flyers team this past year, so Jones isn’t solely to blame for his goals against. His save percentage has hovered around .900 for each of the past four seasons as well (precisely .896 for 2018-19 through 2020-21 and then .900 in Philly). Those are backup numbers on a good team, but they aren’t that far from respectability.
Say your average team allows 30 shots per game (Kraken allowed 28.9, 2021-22 Flyers allowed 34). A .900 save percentage sees your goaltender stopping 27 of those. Variability means 28 some nights, 26 others, etc. But an average of three goals against.
In Jones’ all-star season his save percentage was .912, equaling 27.4 saves per game, only preventing a single extra goal every three matchups. But over an 82 game season, the difference looks much more significant (216.5 vs 246). All this math really says is that Martin Jones isn’t so far away from being a reliable goaltender once again. He just hasn’t been trending that way for a while.
For the moment, Jones is simply a stopgap solution with his single year deal. He’ll be free to choose a new club next season if he so chooses. But something worth noting is that a repeat of Jones’ .900 save percentage last year would beat the numbers posted by any Kraken netminder in 2021.