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Is Martin Jones the best goalie in the NHL?

It's a Canadian Game


blog-0808465001417833138.jpgIf you search the league leaders on NHL.com among goaltending stats, his name might not even come up, but the best goalie in the NHL this season may very well be Martin Jones.

The Los Angeles Kings back-up has only found the net seven times this season, but best believe he could very well get more starts the way his season is going.

Jones might not appear among some of the league leaders in stats simply for the fact he doesn’t have many starts, but when he has had the chance to suit up, he has been a wall. In seven appearances this season Jones has a record of 3-2-1, which is alright, but he has a save percentage of 0.947% and a goals against average of 1.42.

How good are those numbers? Well his 0.947% save percentage would tie him with Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson for first overall in the NHL while his goals against average is better than any tender in the league. The NHL takes into account Hutchinson’s numbers among leaders though he has only played one more game than Jones. So, one more start and Jones may become the man to beat.

Jones also has two shutouts and oh yes, they are in his last two games. He currently has a shutout streak of 146:01. What’s more amazing, for a goalie in just his second season, as a back-up go figure, is that that isn’t even his longest shutout streak. Last season Jones played a stretch of 163:12 without giving up a goal.

Following his shutout Thursday night in a 4-0 routing of the Arizona Coyotes, Jones tied Hall of Fame tender Tony Esposito as the third fastest goalie to record six shutouts.

The North Vancouver, BC native broke into the NHL last season backing-up Jonathan Quick and was as durable as one can be as a number two. In 19 games he went 12-6-0 with numbers of 0.934% and a 1.81 GAA with four shutouts.

The 24-year-old was never drafted, but rather joined the Kings organization after being signed as a free agent in October of 2008. The move seems like a stroke of genius now.

Looking back at his career, it’s actually difficult to find a season where Jones hasn’t put up miraculous numbers. His worst year of junior was his first season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, which for his first season is understandable. The thing is though; his numbers aren’t even bad. He had a 3.03 GAA and a 0.884% save percentage, which are both respectable numbers for junior netminders. These came as he recorded of 9-4-3 record, so he was still winning.

In 2008-09, the season he was signed by LA, he put up an astounding record of 45-5-4-7. He finished four years of junior hockey with a record of 108-28-9-16 a winning percentage of .601. In 2009-10 Jones went 36-11-1-8, he was named to Canada’s World Junior team, winning silver, he was a first team WHL all-star, he was named the WHL’s top goaltender during the regular season, he earned the WHL MVP, was named to the CHL Memorial Cup All-Star Team, and took home the Hap Emms Trophy as the Memorial Cup’s most outstanding goaltender.

Last season, before becoming the team’s back-up, Jones started the season the Kings’ AHL affiliate the Manchester Monarchs playing 22 games going 16-3-3-2 with 0.928% save percentage and a 2.13 GAA. It was this performance that likely gave the Kings the confidence to trade away, then back-up, Ben Scrivens to Edmonton even with Scrivens posted a 0.931% save percentage and 1.97 GAA.

This summer should be a very interesting time for the 6-foot-4 tender. He is in his last year of his contract that is paying him just $550,000 and with his outstanding numbers should be able to receive a nice raise. The Kings will already have over $60 million of their cap distributed among 14 players and will need to still find a way to sign restricted free agents Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, who will deserve a pay increase. All this while also dealing with unrestricted free agents Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams.

So, there is a chance that Jones might have to go elsewhere. And if Jones wants to become a number one in the league, that might just be the best thing for him, just ask Jonathan Bernier. Quick is under contract until 2023, so unless a devastating injury arises, staying in LA means minimal playing time.

Jones has been a winner at every level he has played and put up unbelievable numbers along the way. He might one day be one of the premier goalies in the league, not bad for someone who as of Friday could not be found among NHL.com’s goaltending leaders.

Follow me on Twitter: @Craig_Hagerman

Photo Courtesy of Mark Blinch/ The Canadian Press


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