After a kind-of-whatever five-year relationship with Antti Niemi, the Sharks moved on from the Finnish goaltender this offseason. That move wasn't particularly surprising; acquiring Martin Jones from the Boston Bruins, on the other hand...right.
The Sharks wanted to get younger (and understandable were unconvinced by what they've seen from Alex Stalock). Getting Jones accomplishes that, as he's just 25 and has limited NHL mileage. So right, there's the rub: In a lot of ways, Jones is still a bit of an unknown quantity.
In 34 regular season NHL games, Jones has a .926 save percentage. That's (obviously) incredible, but it's also nowhere near a large enough sample size to make any reasonable assumptions. Remember, Stalock was the "obvious" choice to supplant Niemi after a strong 2013-14 season. How'd that work out?
While the NHL numbers aren't quite enough to get anything resembling confidence in the Sharks' new goaltender, we can dig into his AHL stats to try to gain some confidence. Stalock's AHL numbers were of primary concern when he posted a .932 save percentage in 24 games in the 2013-14 season.
He left Worcester with a career AHL save percentage of .900 in 158 games. While there are certainly exceptions, typically a goalie should have an AHL save percentage several percentage points above NHL average (around .913) to be expected to have a good NHL career. What does this say for Jones' prospects? Let's take a look.
[Edited to correct the idiot mathematical error written by some idiot who wrote this post] Jones also played 158 AHL games (creepy), but with better results. He posted a .921 save percentage, which is a marked improvement over Stalock isn't exactly anything to lose your mind over. That might be okay! You might have heard of a couple pretty average goaltenders that have led their team's to cup glory.
And that's not to say Jones will be bang average, either. He ought to be a certain improvement over Stalock, who will likely get a fair share of the starts as Jones' backup this season. Whether Jones will actually be an improvement over Niemi is far from certain. While Niemi was much maligned with the Sharks, his numbers (as I've long advocated) were pretty average. If you're looking for something more than that, Jones might not be the answer.
This chart looks at the league's shooting percentage against Jones, both absolute (left) and relative to other goaltenders (right). Again, too small a sample size to judge anything from this, but they're nice to look at and it'll be interesting to see how accurate a picture this paints wants he's got a few games under his belt.
Jones (probably) won't be the Tuuka Rask-type savior that many Sharks fans are clamoring for, but he's young, cheap(ish) and should at least provide average goaltending. That should be good enough.