The San Jose Sharks have signed pending restricted free agent goaltender Martin Jones to a three-year, $9 million deal, PHT has confirmed.
Jones, who was dealt by the L.A. Kings to the Boston Bruins at the NHL Draft, was acquired by the Sharks from the Bruins on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old has appeared in 34 career NHL games all with the L.A. Kings. Jones was 4-5-2 to go along with a 2.25 G.A.A. and a .906 save percentage in 15 appearances last season.
“I think I’m ready to definitely take that step and play more hockey games,” Jones said during a conference call on Tuesday. “I had a great two years in L.A. learning from Jonathan Quick. It’s been a big couple of years in my development and I’m looking forward to the new challenge.”
Jones is expected to challenge Alex Stalock for the starting role in San Jose next season.
“It’s going to be fun to be honest with you,” Jones said. “You get to play those guys a lot. Obviously, they have a great team. To be able to play those guys is fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
Martin Jones is headed back to the Pacific Division.
Less than a week after he was acquired by the Boston Bruins in the Milan Lucic trade, the 25-year-old goalie has been flipped to San Jose, where he’ll form a netminding tandem with Alex Stalock.
As first reported by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the return to Boston is a first-round draft pick in 2016 plus unsigned prospect Sean Kuraly, a forward at Miami University.
“Martin was at the top of our list of players that we had targeted,” said Sharks GM Doug Wilson, per CSN Bay Area. “We’re extremely excited to have him on board.”
The undrafted Jones has a .923 career save percentage in the NHL, which is good. However, he’s only started 29 games total, and his save percentage was just .906 last season for the Kings.
In other words, the Sharks — a team that professes to have a “win right now” mentality — are rolling the dice on a pretty inexperienced goalie. Actually, make that two inexperienced goalies, given Stalock only has 37 career starts to his name.
The Bruins are now without a backup goalie.
Kari Lehtonen ranked eighth among goaltenders in total minutes last season while Antti Niemi was ninth. If everything goes according to plan, neither of them will be in the top-10 next season and that’s something the 31-year-old Finnish goaltenders are comfortable with.
“My year was disappointing, so I want to fix that, and I’m open to doing anything I can to do that,” Lehtonen said, per the Dallas Morning News. “We are adults and we are older in our careers, so I think we can work through anything that comes up. Goalies have a certain friendship and Antti and I are friends, and I think that helps a great deal.”
He added that he thinks he plays better when rested, so he sees the advantage to his playing time being reduced.
Niemi was obviously aware of the situation before inking a three-year, $13.5 million contract on Monday, so it’s no surprise that he’s open to it. He did point out though that this will provide him with more time to recover between starts and work with goalie coach Jeff Reese.
It should help that the duo is familiar with each other. Lehtonen still remembers splitting ice time with Niemi for a game when they were both 10 years old. Much more recently, they were roommates during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
This will be an expensive experiment for Dallas as the two netminders have a combined $10.4 million annual cap hit for the next three seasons. That means the Stars will be paying more for its goaltending than even the New York Rangers, which carry the current cap hit leader among netminders in Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million annually).