Sharks’ Goaltending Situation No Longer an Issue

The San Jose Sharks have struggled to find consistent goaltending over the past few years. After making it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, they were able to get two good years out of a Martin Jones and Aaron Dell tandem. However, like all good things, it would not last forever. With no true elite prospects in the system and less-than-stellar goaltending in the 2020-21 season with a Jones and Devin Dubnyk combo, the Sharks decided to rejuvenate the pipeline.

The Sharks parted ways with Jones, Dell, and Dubnyk going into the 2021-22 season. In free agency, they signed James Reimer and acquired Adin Hill before the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft roster freeze. In addition to two NHL-level goalies, they also signed Strauss Mann and drafted Benjamin Gaudreau. Clearly, they were throwing everything at the wall hoping something would stick. Now, a quarter of the way through the 2022-23 season, it seems their plan to test everything has paid off.

Reimer Providing Stable Goaltending for the Sharks

After a stint with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Sharks were eager to bring Reimer back to San Jose. At the time, he was viewed as a decent goalie with the potential to lead teams to success with support from the defense. However, instead of that, they got a goaltender who was able to carry entire games with elite performances.

James Reimer San Jose Sharks
James Reimer, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the 2021-22 season, Reimer put up a .911 save percentage (SV%) in 48 games. While these numbers still don’t reach the true top of the pyramid, his stats were still far above what many expected from a 34-year-old goalie on a mediocre team. This season, his numbers have taken a bit of a hit, as he only has a .903 SV%. However, he has still been stable enough to support the Sharks when the games get tough.

Related: Strauss Mann Could Fix Sharks’ Goaltending Crisis

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Most likely, the Sharks will send Reimer to another team at the trade deadline, assuming they continue to stay outside of a playoff spot. If this happens, they could get a decent return for a goalie that has shown he is far from done at the NHL level. However, even when he is gone, the goaltending situation will still be looking up for the foreseeable future.

Sharks Goalie Prospect Pipeline Looking Fantastic

Although the Hill experiment resulted in a trade to the Vegas Golden Knights, the remainder of the Sharks’ goalie decisions have panned out well. When Jake Middleton was sent to the Minnesota Wild at last year’s trade deadline, they were able to bring in Kaapo Kahkonen. He has now taken over as the backup for the Sharks, and although his numbers have only been decent this season, he is still showing flashes of promise given the proper support.

Kaapo Kahkonen San Jose Sharks
Kaapo Kahkonen, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As for Sharks goalies outside of the NHL, there is nothing but good news to report. Mann has looked outstanding in each game he has played for both the San Jose Barracuda and the Wichita Thunder. His time in the NHL is quickly approaching, and he looks like the real deal. Eetu Makineimi, who the Sharks acquired in the Brent Burns trade, has also looked great. Given a chance in the NHL, either of these two goalies could blow the doors off in a short amount of time.

Outside of the professional leagues, the remainder of the Sharks’ goalie prospects are doing well. Magnus Chrona has a .908 SV% with the University of Denver, and Gaudreau and Mason Beaupit have both put up mid .800 SV%s so far in the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League, respectively. There is plenty of time for these prospects to continue their development, and it seems like they have a good chance of reaching the pro league soon.

Related: Sharks Writer’s Roundtable: Draft Selections and More

Clearly, the Sharks are set for goaltending talent for a while. They are filled to the brim with talent, and each prospect has a great chance of making it to the NHL one day. However, for the time being, fans will have to be patient. Goaltending development takes a long time. That being said, if the Sharks play their cards right, the team could have plenty of goalie support in only a few short years.

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