The Seattle Kraken have signed goaltender Martin Jones to a one-year, $2 million deal. The 32-year-old moves back to the West Coast after spending the 2021-22 season with the Philadelphia Flyers. With Chris Driedger out until at least December, the Kraken brought in the veteran netminder to lessen the workload for Philipp Grubauer while allowing Joey Daccord to get much-needed playtime in the AHL next season.
Jones’s Career So Far
Before joining the NHL, Jones dominated the Western Hockey League (WHL) for four seasons with the Calgary Hitmen. He put together a 108-28-9 regular-season record with a 2.24 goals-against average (GAA) and a .912 save percentage (SV%). He also had 16 shutouts, including eight in the 2009-10 season. His 2009-10 season was by far his best as he helped Team Canada win silver at the World Junior Championship, was named WHL Goaltender of the Year, led the Hitmen to the Memorial Cup while being named WHL Playoff MVP, and was named the Memorial Cup’s Most Outstanding Goaltender after leading his team to within a goal of the finals. He was undrafted but signed a contract with the LA Kings and joined the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Jones had a strong four seasons in the AHL before jumping to the NHL full time. He was named to the AHL All-Star Game twice while putting together a strong record of 84-57-10 with a .921 SV%, a 2.42 GAA, and 12 shutouts. It was clear he would not be not long for the AHL and, finally, got his shot at the NHL in 2013-14.
He ran with the opportunity, posting a 12-6-0 record, with a 1.81 GAA, a .934 SV%, and four shutouts during his first campaign, and was named NHL Rookie of the Month for December. That season, he helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup and showed he was ready to take over the backup role.
After playing a full season as the backup in 2014-15, the Kings traded Jones to the Boston Bruins, who flipped him to the San Jose Sharks just a few days later. He spent six seasons in San Jose, recording 170 wins in 327 games. He also led San Jose to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins. By the end of his Sharks career, he had 18 regular-season shutouts, a .907 SV%, and a GAA of 2.66.
As a free agent in 2021, Jones signed a one-year deal with the Flyers to become Carter Hart’s backup. In 35 games, he posted a 12-18-3 record with a 3.42 GAA and a .900 SV%. The 2021-22 season was the first season since 2017-18 that he recorded an SV% of .900 or above but also failed to pick up a shutout for the first time in his career.
Risky Signing by the Kraken
Last season, the Kraken’s goaltending was among the worst in the NHL. No goaltender posted an SV% of above .900, and Grubauer allowed the most goals above expected in the league. While Jones has shown in the past that he can be a strong goalie, he has a goals saved above expected of -56 in his last four seasons – meaning he has allowed around 56 extra goals that he should have stopped. Last season, he also recorded a -1.57 wins above replacement, meaning he cost the Flyers 1.57 games. The Kraken needed to bring in a stabilizing force to solidify their backup position and are now banking on a player that has shown a decline in his game for the last four seasons.
While the statistics paint an ugly picture, there are also positives to this signing, especially regarding Daccord’s development. With Driedger out, it was expected that the former Ottawa Senator would take the reigns behind Grubauer. This would have slowed his development as he would be stapled to the bench for most of the year. As the starter in the AHL, he can get 40-50 games in and start to develop into the NHL-quality goaltender he is projected to be. Signing Jones allows the Kraken to keep him in the AHL for as long as possible, unlike last season, when he only played 34 games.
The other advantage to signing a player like Jones is it gives Grubauer a rest. Last season, he played 55 games, which was 15 more than his previous career high. Having a backup that Dave Hakstol trusts should allow Seattle to manage their goaltending starts better and create some internal competition, especially once Driedger returns from injury.
Kraken Fix One Problem by Signing Jones
Signing Jones is only a Band-Aid fix. If it doesn’t work out, Seattle can try and trade him at the deadline or not re-sign him at the end of the season. The good thing is that there is no pressure on him, unlike during his season with the Flyers. Although it is a risky signing based on his stats, he will help the Kraken in the 2022-23 season.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.