The San Jose Sharks acquired Adin Hill before the expansion draft roster freeze on July 17, 2021. He was a third-round draft pick by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft who spent the majority of his career bouncing between the AHL and the NHL. Rather than let Hill leave for nothing in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, the Coyotes dealt him to the Sharks for a second-round pick and Josef Korenar.
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While Hill has moments where he plays like a starter in the NHL, he has plenty of instances where his performance has warranted a trip to the minors. The Sharks believed that a change in scenery could be enough to help him maintain consistency, but this season has been more of the same for the young goaltender. With the future of the Sharks uncertain, will Hill be able to find a spot in the Sharks’ plans going forward?
The Injury Bug
One of the reasons Hill struggles with consistency is his constant battle to stay healthy. For whatever reason, the Coyotes’ recent goaltenders all managed to find themselves on injured reserve more often than most. Unfortunately, this issue seems to have continued beyond Hill’s time with the Coyotes.
Hill was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury on Jan. 29. Since then, his return has been looming, but he has yet to make his way back. What originally seemed like a minor lower-body injury has kept Hill from returning to play since mid-January. While injuries are something that every NHL player must deal with at some point in time, Hill’s injuries are consistent enough to raise some eyebrows.
If Hill continues to struggle with injuries, making a case for him to be the Sharks’ starting goaltender will be tough. Goaltending injuries are a major enough issue to keep some teams from making deep playoff runs. While the Sharks are a long way from contention, they will need to be able to rely on their goaltenders to get anywhere in the playoffs. If Hill can not stay healthy, he may not be reliable enough.
Hill’s Major Consistency Issues
While Hill consistently getting injured, his goaltending stats are much less consistent. Before he went down with an injury, he had a .901 save percentage and a 2.78 goals-against average in 24 games. While these numbers are decent, they are not quite what would be expected of a true starting goaltender.
One could argue that Hill’s numbers could be a result of the Sharks’ performance in front of him. While the team has been anything but stellar this season, James Reimer has maintained a great save percentage despite the defensive issues in front of the net. Hill may not be receiving support from his team, but he is not doing enough to help them out either.
There are some starting goaltenders in the NHL with consistency issues, such as Frederik Andersen or John Gibson, who still can lead their team to success in the playoffs. However, their stat highs are incredibly high. When Hill is performing at his peak, he is decent but not outstanding. He needs to lock down his consistency issues if he is the starting goaltender that he occasionally shows flashes of. Otherwise, he may never be anything more than a tandem goalie.
The Direction of the Sharks Going Forward
The main reason Hill was traded from Arizona was because of his goaltending potential. There is a very high chance that the Kraken would have selected him in the expansion draft if he was available. However, when the Sharks took a chance on him, their future was up in the air. Despite this season proving that the Sharks are probably in need of a rebuild, the direction that general manager Doug Wilson plans on taking the team is still not clear.
The Sharks have a deep prospect pool that they will tap into next season. However, one of the positions they are the weakest in is goaltending. As of now, prospects such as Mike Robinson, Magnus Chrona, and Benjamin Gaudreau look the most promising, but there is no guarantee that any of them pan out. Even so, there is a chance they will be taking Hill’s spot on the roster in the next few years.
Hill seems like an excellent goaltender to keep for a tandem scenario. With this in consideration, perhaps the best thing to do would be to keep him alongside another good goaltender. Reimer will likely not stay with the Sharks for much longer, which leaves a spot open for a prospect to step up and give the squad some youth goaltending. Hill could still turn his career around, and perhaps a tandem scenario in the NHL would give him the confidence he needs to break out.
When Hill returns from injury, how he plays alongside Reimer will determine his future with the Sharks. Sharing the pipes with a great veteran goaltender is an excellent start to getting him on the right track. While this season has not been a fantastic start to his career in San Jose, he’s still young. Hill will likely never be the Sharks’ definite starting goalie, but that does not mean he does not belong in the organization as it begins to shape a new future.
Andrew Stille is a freelance writer for THW who is currently studying Journalism and Communication in college. In addition, he’s a devoted NHL content creator looking to grow and learn daily. Andrew is a trustworthy source for everything San Jose Sharks-related and strives to create fun and exciting articles for all readers.
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