The Seattle Kraken are looking for a bounce-back season out of starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The question is, who will be his backup? They played their inaugural season with three goaltenders taking the ice, albeit one for just five games, and were one of the worst teams in the NHL in goals-against. Their fourth goaltender split time between the American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL, and was a non-factor in team decision-making; he is no longer with the organization.
Last season’s backup Chris Driedger will be sidelined with an ACL injury, thus opening the door for Joey Daccord, the team’s top goalie prospect. However, that door started closing when the Kraken signed Martin Jones in free agency.
Many believe that Jones is going to be the backup goaltender for the Kraken, with Daccord assuming starting duties for the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds. They also signed Magnus Hellberg, but I don’t anticipate him getting a shot at an NHL job for them. Does prospect Daccord deserve the opportunity, or should veteran Jones get the position? Let’s discuss.
Martin Jones Looking to Rejuvenate Career
Jones started his NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings before being dealt to the Boston Bruins, then flipped to the San Jose Sharks in 2015. To that point in his career, he’d only played 34 NHL games and two playoff games, but had a Stanley Cup title under his belt after winning it in 2013-14 with the Kings.
He got off to a great start with the Sharks, playing 65 games with a 2.27 goals-against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%). His 37 wins are still a career-high, and his six shutouts are as well. He also took them to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost.
Since then, Jones’ play has fallen off. To be fair, the Sharks haven’t exactly been the best team over the past couple of years. The Philadelphia Flyers signed him last season, and he went 12-18-3 with a 3.42 GAA and .900 SV% with no shutouts in 35 games. Going from one struggling team to another certainly didn’t help, and now he’s joining a Kraken team that still has many question marks despite improving during the offseason.
Jones brings experience to the table, having played just under 400 regular season NHL games, and 62 Stanley Cup Playoff games. His two Stanley Cup runs could prove useful to the Kraken if they’re in contention for a playoff spot as the regular season winds down. At 32 years old, this could be one of his final shots at rejuvenating his NHL career.
Joey Daccord Needs Consistency to Succeed
Since I started covering the Kraken, I’ve been very high on Daccord being the Seattle’s future goaltender. However, it’s getting to a point where he’s going to have to really step up and prove that he can stick at the NHL level. He’s shown glimpses, like having been named March’s AHL Goalie of the Month, but this is his time to go out and earn the responsibility.
Similarly to Jones, he’s played in front of struggling teams for the majority of his career. He has to start showing that he can be the backbone teams like the Kraken need when they’re struggling and need some heroics in net. How will he achieve this? Well, he’ll need to have an incredible training camp, for starters. Jones is a veteran, which will definitely hold some favor with the decision-making. For Daccord to back up this team, he has to steal the job, and with that comes overcoming the negative effects of inconsistent playing time.
(For more on Daccord, check out some of last season’s Kraken Prospects Report articles, such as this one.)
THW’s Kraken Team’s Predictions
Here’s where I have to fight what I want to see, with what I think would be best for the Kraken and its respective players. Jones needs this NHL opportunity, while my biggest belief for Daccord is that he needs consistency. Without Jones, Daccord would be an NHL backup for at least a few months this season until Driedger is healthy and able to step back in.
However, as I’ve said in the past, the biggest thing for Daccord is consistency. He found success when he wasn’t being called up just to sit on the bench; when he could get into a rhythm both in net and with the team in front of him. While anything can happen, and the injury bug loves to bite at the most inopportune times, if he can spend most of the season leading the Firebirds to the playoffs, it would help him immensely for the future.
Jones can wipe the slate clean ahead of this season. The Kraken, while still having holes to fill, are a better team than last season due to the additions general manager Ron Francis made during the summer. He’s only on a one-year deal, and if he’s able to have a strong bounce-back year, it could open the door for another starting job or even a backup job on a winning team. Likewise, if Daccord has a strong year, then it makes things a little more interesting going into this upcoming offseason.
THW’s Adam Kierszenblat, my “What’s Kraken” partner-in-crime, had some thoughts on who will be backing up Grubauer this season.
Martin Jones is going to be the backup. He has the experience and based on (head coach Dave) Hakstol’s history, that is what he trusts. It will give Daccord plenty of opportunity to work on his game in the AHL. Hopefully, Jones can re-find his form after a rough season in Philadelphia.– Adam Kierszenblat
I’ve had to separate asking myself who I want to back up the Kraken, from who really should. It’s going to be Jones, for my aforementioned reasons, and echoing Adam’s. He not only has NHL experience but championship experience, which is something that I value when it comes to building a team – even if he’s just there for the short term.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.