Martin Jones has to be one of the Los Angeles Kings’ top priorities this offseason. Jones’ two-year $1.1 million contract is set to expire on July 1 when he will become a restricted free agent. In a post season conference call with local media Dean Lombardi touched on some of the contract negotiations that were on the top of his list where Jones was mentioned.
…that we’re working toward, is signing Toffoli and Jones. That’s not a domino, because that’s been our priority. You saw, during the season, we were fortunate to get Nolan done and Clifford done and Martinez and Muzzin and Pearson. We want to finish that off, with those seven or eight players that are not even in their prime yet, to keep them in the fold. That’s not a domino. That’s something that we’re actively pursuing.’’
The contract that Jones likely gets won’t be a long-term one. Jonathan Quick is the Kings’ guy in net and locking up money and signing a backup goalie to a long-term contract doesn’t make sense. The route the Kings and Lombardi should take is one they have already traveled down, with Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier was involved in a trade back in 2013 that sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs and brought forward Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens and a second round pick back to Los Angeles.
Bernier was very much the Jones before Jones. Bernier was Quick’s backup and posted very admirable numbers as the number two guy. The 2006 first-rounder played in 62 career regular-season games and one playoff game as Quick’s backup where he posted a 29-20-6 record, a .912 save percentage, a 2.36 goals against average with six shutouts.
Bernier made it known that he wanted to be a starter in the NHL and leading up to his trade he posted numbers that looked like he could be one. Before the Kings traded him, Bernier was 9-3-1 with a 1.88 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
Since the trade Bernier has grabbed a 47-47-14 record with a 2.56 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Frattin, along with two draft picks, were traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Marian Gaborik, who recorded 14 goals and 22 points for the Kings as they ran to their second Cup in three years. Finally, Scrivens was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for a third round pick.
Looking back on the trade now, the Kings basically traded Bernier for Gaborik who played a major role in the Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup Championship. I’d say the Kings won that trade.
Fast forward to today and the Kings may be experiencing a bit of deja vu. There has already been whispers that Jones wants to be a starter in the NHL and he has put up the numbers that suggest he should get a shot. In his short NHL career, Jones has put up a record of 16-11-2 with a .923 save percentage, a 1.99 goals against average with seven shutouts.
Jones made an immediate impact after being called up from the Manchester Monarchs two seasons ago. The undrafted goalie won his first eight starts, three of them being shutout victories. Since his red-hot start, Jones has slowed down but has established himself as a reliable set of pads between the pipes.
The Kings need to get Jones to sign a new contract, there’s no denying that. Give Jones another season, maybe two, depending on the length of his upcoming contract. Hopefully over that time Jones wins some games and posts some respectable numbers which would result in his trade value rising.
Depending on the development of Jean-Francois Berube in Manchester the Kings may be able to pull the trigger on a trade involving Jones earlier with his trade stock at a higher point. Quick is the Kings’ goalie this isn’t a secret. Now it is just a matter of getting Jones signed and waiting for the right time and right deal to bring in some valuable assets via trade.