Toronto Maple Leafs: Can Martin Jones Resurrect his Career?

Apr 1, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken goalie Martin Jones (30) puts on his helmet during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Kraken goalie Martin Jones (30) puts on his helmet during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports /
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During this past offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs aggressively signed multiple free agents despite having a tight cap space. One of the more intriguing ones was the signing of veteran netminder Martin Jones.

Surprisingly, Jones agreed to a one-year, $875,000 contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs early last month.

It doesn’t seem that long ago when Jones starred for the San Jose Sharks in their deep playoff runs back in 2016 when he helped the team reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time ever in franchise history, and in 2019 when they ultimately bowed out in the Western Conference Final to the eventual champs St. Louis Blues.

However, things haven’t been as rosy for Jones in the past few seasons, as he hasn’t had a save percentage above .900 since 2018, and he had a string of three consecutive seasons dating back to the 2019-20 season in which his GAA was constantly above 3.00.

Last season, he split duties with Philipp Grubauer on an up and coming Seattle Kraken team that surprised many by making the playoffs in just their second season of existence. Jones posted a respectable 27-13-3 record with a 2.95 GAA but a less than stellar .887 save percentage during the 2022-23 regular season.

Unfortunately, Grubauer’s strong play as the season wore on made him the primary starting goaltender for the Kraken down the stretch and into the playoffs, relegating Jones to more a minor backup role. (stats from nhl.com).

Can Martin Jones Resurrect his Career with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

The market for Jones was most likely very thin this past offseason, as he eventually accepted the modest Leafs offer. In doing so, he probably knew already that he was coming in as the de-facto third string goalie for the organization. For someone that was at one time one of the top goalies in the league, it is certainly tough to see how the mighty has fallen.

Nevertheless, Jones has enough confidence that a potential opportunity could be there for the taking. After all, current Leafs starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov ran into some injury troubles both during the regular season and the playoffs last season. In addition, rookie goaltender Joseph Woll, who is supposedly the Leafs backup heading into the 2023-24 season, has only played 11 total games in the NHL in his professional hockey career. As a result, any little misstep by either goaltender could open the door for Jones.

Furthermore, if Jones can perform exceptionally well during the preseason games, it could force the Leafs to carry three goaltenders heading into the regular season, since all of them are no longer waiver exempt. In addition, having the presence of Jones in the locker room with his veteran leadership and playoff experience could actually help the other Leafs goaltenders and the Leafs as a whole in the long run.

So whether or not Jones can resurrect his career with the Leafs and become a player of significance once again will strictly depend on how he performs in the coming weeks and into the regular season if he does end up winning a roster spot.

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Hopefully, he will have the chance to shine once again in one form or another as he gracefully heads toward the twilight of his career.