One of Edmonton’s big question marks for next season is goaltending. The Oilers have been badly let down by their goaltenders this year, and the expectation is that general manager Craig MacTavish will once more attempt to address the position this summer.
Might he again turn to the Los Angeles Kings for help?
The idea that the Oilers might turn to Martin Jones is certainly not a new suggestion. It’s been made by many people (including a number of commenters here) and was mentioned again during Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh by Penguins play-by-play man Paul Steigerwald.
“There’s a thought that the Oilers might move [the Penguins 2015 first-round] pick to Los Angeles for goaltender Martin Jones,” Steigerwald commented during a break in play. They need a goalie, and the Kings might need a first-round pick.”
A Brief History
Jones, who was first eligible for selection in the 2008 NHL Draft, went unselected after a WHL season in which he went 18-8-1 with a 0.911 save percentage for the Calgary Hitmen. The Los Angeles Kings, along with 29 other teams, passed over Jones but unlike the others ended up inviting him to training camp and signing him.
Jones continued to post solid numbers behind a very good Calgary team for two more years, and then made the jump to the professional ranks with the Manchester Monarchs. It was instantly apparent that the Kings’ decision to sign him had been a very good one; Jones took to the AHL like a fish to water and posted some very impressive numbers with the team. Here’s how his work from 2010-14 stands up to the club’s other goalies:
Jones made the jump to the NHL last season, eventually making it clear to Los Angeles that it could afford to trade backup Ben Scrivens to make room for him. Here’s how he compares to other goalies to defend the Kings’ net since the start of last year:
An Uncertain Gamble
There’s no doubt that Jones is an intriguing young goalie. The question is whether he’s a certain enough bet for the Oilers to take a chance on him. I’m not convinced.
There’s no question that Jones is a good AHL goalie. He outplayed Jeff Zatkoff in Manchester by a significant margin; Zatkoff is an established AHL starter and even backed up Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh last season. He also outplayed Peter Mannino, a competent minor-league journeyman. But the gap between ‘outplayed Mannino and Zatkoff’ and ‘pencil him in as an NHL No. 1 goalie’ is massive, and less than 1,000 shots in the NHL isn’t nearly enough to address it.
That’s particularly true if the price is anything like a first-round pick, which seems ridiculously exorbitant. Let’s not forget that the Oilers were able to acquire Scrivens – a goalie with a longer NHL record and better numbers in L.A. – for the price of a third-round pick, and that during the season no less. Weighed against that is the fact that the Kings (as a contender with a starter who has missed significant time to injury in recent years) have little motivation to ship a quality backup like Jones away for a low return.
Even if the price is modest, MacTavish will be taking a leap of faith turning to a goalie with Jones’ short NHL history. At a higher price, such a trade seems incredibly unlikely.