Out of nowhere, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in another goaltender controversy, courtesy of Martin Jones’s recent stellar performances.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs initially signed Martin Jones, I never expected him to clear waivers, let alone win games in December.
However, that’s precisely where we stand with the 33-year-old netminder.
For those unfamiliar with Jones’s journey, he has enjoyed a consistently solid career. The notion that he could potentially serve as a third-stringer this season seemed implausible, making Toronto’s decision to sign him a brilliant move by GM Brad Treliving.
Toronto Maple Leafs Should Promote Jones to No. 1 Goalie Until Woll Is Back
The real brilliance behind this move, however, lies with cap-wizard Brandon Pridham. Pridham orchestrated a $100,000 bonus check slated for Martin Jones at the onset of the 2023-24 season.
While it isn’t officially confirmed that it was Pridham’s idea, considering his expertise with salary caps, it appears to be his strategic move. The addition of the $100,000 bonus payment likely dissuaded other teams from signing Jones. As a result, Jones cleared waivers and became a Leaf. Given the team’s valuation well over $2 billion, the $100,000 investment was a shrewd move by the organization.
Although Jones cleared waivers, little was expected from him this year. Joseph Woll and Ilya Samsonov appeared poised to vie for the number-one goaltender spot, with Jones patiently waiting for a call-up.
Woll asserted himself as the primary starter after an impressive stretch, but a high-ankle sprain sidelined him, thrusting Samsonov back into the starting position.
Initially, expectations were for Samsonov to regain his form, with Jones playing sporadically. However, after three games and lackluster performances by Samsonov, could Jones emerge as the new starter?
- Martin Jones (stats: hockeydb.com):
- 3-0-0, 1.85 GAA, 0.949 SV%
- Ilya Samsonov:
- 5-1-5, 3.51 GAA, 0.878 SV%
- Joseph Woll:
- 8-5-1, 2.80 GAA, 0.916 SV%
Clearly, Jones has excelled in his three recent games, and his 38-save shutout on Saturday night may have propelled him into the number-one role, at least until Woll is healthy.
The Leafs are under no obligation to Samsonov, and given Jones’s 447 NHL games of experience, the team may feel more at ease with him in net. Jones has served as a starting goalie for a Stanley Cup Finalist team and as a backup for a Stanley Cup-winning team with the LA Kings in 2014, so this situation isn’t likely to faze him.
In fact, with a formidable team in front of him, this presents a fantastic opportunity for Jones to reclaim a starting goalie role.
Currently, the Leafs sit second in the Atlantic Division and haven’t lost in regulation in almost a month. It’s an opportune time to give Jones a run, with three games in six nights before a four-day break for Christmas. Without any back-to-backs, riding Jones for all three games could provide valuable insights into his capabilities.
If Jones were a rookie netminder with zero experience, concerns about the workload would be valid. However, as a seasoned goaltender, he should seize this opportunity to establish himself as the number-one goalie once again.
After initial concerns about clearing waivers, the Toronto Maple Leafs may have unexpectedly found their new starting goalie in Martin Jones.