The San Jose Sharks had the worst goaltending rotation in the NHL last season.
Featuring not one, not two, not three but four(!) different netminders with save percentages under 90 percent, the Sharks were a predictably bad team that ultimately upgraded their goaltending position earlier this month with a trade for once Arizona Coyote Adin Hill.
With Hill signed, who stopped 91.5 percent of the shots on his net over the last two seasons, the Sharks opted to buy out their top goalie from the 2020-21 season, Martin Jones, to instead sign journeyman netminder James Reimer to serve as the 1a to Hill’s 1b.
Is Martin Jones an upgrade for the Philadelphia Flyers over Brian Elliott?
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From 2015-18, Martin Jones was a great goaltender for the San Jose Sharks.
He stopped 4,718 of the 5,158 shot attempts on his goal over 190 regular season appearances, recorded 102 wins versus only 68 losses, and even helped to power the Sharks’ playoff run with a 92.6 save percentage in 40 games over three seasons.
That guy earned a massive six-year, $34.5 million extension that would have kept Jones in a teal and grey uniform through the 2025-26 season and looked like a legit franchise netminder.
Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Flyers are not getting that guy.
No, since the fall of 2018, Jones has been a shell of his former glory, having recorded three straight 89.6 save percentage seasons, including a brutal 2020-21 contest where he recorded his fewest saves since his sophomore season with the Los Angeles Kings.
So why, you may ask, did the Flyers pick Jones as their guy to backup Carter Hart for the forthcoming season?
One word: Experience.
Despite having over 100 appearances to his name, Hart is only 22-years-old and is coming off of the worst season of his career by any discernable margin – setting a new career low in wins, appearances, and save percentage in the final year of his initial contract.
In Jones, Hart now has a former starter to lean on, learn from, and grow his game alongside as he attempts to recapture performances that made him the most exciting young goalie in the NHL.
… wait, didn’t the Flyers already have that in Brian Elliott?
Yeah, as hard as it may be to remember from his time in the City of Brotherly Love, Elliott actually made a pair of All-Star appearances during his time in St. Louis and actually took home the Jennings Trophy for his 1.56 GAA season in 2012-13.
Heck, Elliott even finished out the 2020-21 season with a better win-loss percentage than Jones, even if his saves percentage was a tenth of a degree lower.
So what gives? Was Elliott swayed away by a chance to compete for a ‘chip in Tampa Bay? Or were the Flyers simply unwilling to give Elliott a deal attractive enough to close out his career in the City of Brotherly Love? Did the Flyers give Jones, a player who was waived earlier in the week, $2 million out of fear that they’d be stuck with someone even worse?
*sigh* your guess is as good as mine.
In the grand scheme of things, swapping out Elliott for Jones isn’t that much of a downgrade. Neither is an outright disaster in net, and both should be good for 20-30 games of action over a standard 82 game season. If Carter Hart can rebound to his 2019-20 form this fall, it won’t particularly matter who is backing him up. But if he falters, the fate of the Philadelphia Flyers’ season will fall on the shoulders of a 31-year-old who hasn’t been good since Dave Hakstol was calling the shots. Yikes.