Sharks vs. Stars: Goaltender Showdown
San Jose opted to trade for Martin Jones instead of re-sign Antti Niemi. How's that looking so far?
Disclaimer: It's still far, far too early to judge this move based on results as one of the big positives in acquiring Martin Jones is his age. This is just for fun.
Nobody had much fun playing for the Sharks during the 2014-15 season, but few were raked over the coals quite as furiously as Antti Niemi. It was clear from the moment the Sharks collapsed against the Kings in 2014 that the Sharks were done with the Finnish netminder, a sentiment made clear by San Jose's continued attempts to make Alex Stalock happen.
While that experiment didn't pan out, the Sharks never seemed interesting in bringing Niemi back to San Jose. So Niemi signed with Dallas to split time with Kari Lehtonen, who was coming off a terrible year with the Stars. That led the Sharks to trade for Martin Jones, who has started in the vast majority of San Jose's contests as Stalock has failed to rebound after a poor campaign.
So how do the teams' four goalies compare halfway through the season? Check out the table below to see how they compare in several categories.
Niemi has the most impressive 5v5 save percentage (both adjusted and standard) while Jones has played the most and Lehtonen has seen the most shots per 60 minutes. Alex Stalock...is getting paid the least! So he has that going for him.
Niemi's save percentage is also significantly higher than his career average. In 429 games, Niemi has a 5-on-5 save percentage of 92.40 (92.10 for adjusted) while Lehtonen is stopping fewer shots than his career average. Jones is in the same boat as Lehtonen, though it's still too early for those career numbers to be predictive.
Both teams sit next to one another in the 5v5 save percentage category...all the way at the back of the bus. The Stars are 25th in the league with a 5v5 save percentage of 92.0 and the Sharks are 26th at 91.6. That's .4 points worse than a year ago for the Sharks, while the Stars have seen an improvement of 1.1.
This speaks more to the general improvement in goaltending this season versus a season ago. For instance, the best 5v5 save percentage from last season (Montreal with a 93.7) would sit fifth this season. Conversely, the worst last year (Edmonton 90.2) is 1.2 points worse than this year's worse (Edmonton again! 91.4).
So the Stars have received slightly better goaltending than the Sharks, but they've paid a whole lot more to get it. Both teams could stand to get more, particularly from their backups, but at least San Jose isn't filling up its cap to get it. Don't mention the pick sent to Boston. If we pretend it didn't happen, then...it didn't happen.