Interesting move out of San Jose on Monday, as the Sharks announced they’ve inked Mantas Armalis to an entry-level contract.
“Mantas had a number of NHL suitors and we are excited that he chose San Jose,” GM Doug Wilson said in a statement. “We’ve been following his progression up the ranks in Sweden over the last few seasons and he has consistently performed at every level.
“He has a history of playing above his age group internationally, and we’re looking forward to him joining our organization.”
Armalis, 23, is an intriguing figure.
Aside from his work as a Versace model, he made waves for Swedish Hockey League club Djurgardens this year, posting the sixth-best save percentage in the league.
He’s also done well internationally, helping his native Lithuania capture bronze at the 2015 World Division 1B championship, while capturing Best Goaltender honors.
That San Jose landed Armalis — ahead of a number of reported suitors, including the Leafs — is also intriguing.
The club’s depth behind No. 1 netminder Martin Jones consists of minor leaguers Aaron Dell, Joel Rumpel and Troy Groenick. Wilson, of course, hasn’t drafted many goalies — just three (Mike Robinson, Jake Kupsky, Frederik Bergvik) in the last seven years — and has a history of success prying talent out of the Swedish and Finnish leagues, like Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson.
The Armalis signing could also mean the Sharks’ current backup, James Reimer, will opt to test free agency and try to land a starting gig elsewhere next season, rather than battle Jones for minutes.