Could Martin Jones fix the Oilers’ goaltending problem?

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:

Player Shots Faced Saves Save Percentage
Martin Jones 4644 4279 0.921
Peter Mannino 542 498 0.919
Jeff Zatkoff 2516 2303 0.915
Jean-Francois Berube 1315 1198 0.911
Team Totals 9327 8561 0.918

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:

Player Shots Faced Saves Save Percentage
Ben Scrivens 464 432 0.931
Martin Jones 776 718 0.925
Jonathan Quick 2710 2479 0.915
Team Totals 3950 3629 0.919

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.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • WTF2

    It is obvious the long suffering fan base base is losing patience and there is very little we can do about it except complain on social media sites like this one. Placing blame is easy it is solutions that I would like to see. How is it that this team still employs AHL caliber players when that was the problem 4 years ago? Too much blame on the goalies even though they are not quality starters. How can we gauge goaltenders when the overall defence is beyond brutal and we have Nikitin to look forward to. This team still lacks NHL quality players and the depth of the organization is the worst in the league. Try hiring a scout that can identify some talent I am tired of throwing my poor remote around the room.

  • Only only goalies who could turn around the Oilers are Price, Rinne, and cough cough Dubnyk. Seems to me we had a starter a year ago, and decided to play like 85 Oilers without the goal scoring. Damn swarm.

    Dubby was better then we thought. See what a good goalie does for a good possession team. MacT undervalued him, and fans wanted him gone. MacT has damaged the Oil so bad with his bold trades we are an additional 3 years away from mediocrity.

    • TKB2677

      People need to drop the Dubnyk argument and get over it.

      The Oilers put 10 years into the guy and he couldn’t seize the job. To say he was inconsistent with the Oilers was an understatement. Mac T came out before the start of last season and said the goaltending wasn’t settled. What he said was what ever fan and even media was saying for years. Dubnyk had the ability but he hadn’t been able to figure out how to do it game in and game out after 10 freaking years of development. The problem was Dubnyk was so weak mentally that we couldn’t take being criticized by his GM for not doing is damn job. WAAAA. Instead of using that as fuel like mentally tough pro is supposed to do, he let it eat him up. He SUCKED with the Oilers last year. Dubnyk himself in interviews with Gregot flat out admitted he let the team calling him out affect him and he flat our wasn’t good enough. Then we went to 2 other teams last year and they gave up on him because he wasn’t good enough.

      Full credit to Dubnyk for turing his game around this year. But it took 3 teams saying he wasn’t good enough and the realization his career was on the line before Dubnyk himself made the necessary changes to his game and most importantly, his mental toughness.

      So it’s pretty easy to pick on the Oilers and say “stupid Oilers, f-ing up again” but it took a Dubnyk hitting rock bottom and the thought of him no longer being in the league before he got his act together. There is no way of knowing for sure but does Dubnyk make these changes if the Oilers hadn’t of called him out and utlitmately dealt him? My gut says no because up until then, he hadn’t changed a thing.

      • camdog

        “Then we went to 2 other teams last year and they gave up on him because he wasn’t good enough.”

        The Predator coaching staff publicly embarrassed the Oilers organisation over how the Oilers handled DD last season. It’s not just Oiler fans calling the Oilers stupid.

        • TKB2677

          When are people going to stop allowing players like Dubnyk to stop being the victim? Do coaches or management have an impact on a player? ABSOLUTELY, they play a big role. However, the player has the biggest impact on how he develops. A coach or management can tell you to do something but if you don’t embrace it, don’t put in the work or don’t try enough. It doesn’t matter how may times you tell a player what to do. They have to do it.

          DO you think the Oilers told Dubnyk “Devan, an you please pout like a baby after we said we aren’t 100% sold on you please”? NO but he did.

          I’m not here to stick up for the Oilers because I think they are a sh!t show. The amount of mistakes they have done is staggering. They have done a ton of things wrong that have screwed this team. But I don’t blame them for Dubnyk. Year after year Dubnyk showed he had all the tools to be really good but when the going got tough, he folded like a cheap lawn chair. That’s on DUBNYK! A huge part of any sport at the professional level is MENTAL. He didn’t have it with the Oilers.

          • tileguy

            totally disagree. Dubnyks poor play was the result of the swarm, brought about by a rookie coach, who is blood on MacT’s hand, as handed off to by Klowe, the original hiring of Katz.

            There you have it in a nutshell, but Oilers nation have known this for 2 years now.

          • TKB2677

            1. The “swarm” was abandoned about 3 weeks into the Eakins era. Not that it made much difference one way or the other. The Oil’s defensive game was bad before during and after the swarm.

            2. If Dubnyk’s problems last year were due to the “if you have to ask” statement, that is 100% on Dubnyk. The NHL is a big boys league and if the you go to the corner and cry when your boss gives you a rough time, then you better go back to novice games and get that participant medal. I think last year may have been a wake up call for Dubnyk that its time to put your big boy pants on and grow a pair.

          • pkam

            Did you remember what Barry Trotz said before demoting Dubnyk to minors? If I remember correctly, ‘Dubnyk had picked up a lot of bad habits.’. What does that mean? To me it means Dubnyk learned from a bad goalie coach. How can a goalie turn around his game when he had a bad goalie coach is beyond me. If a goalie can turn his game around without the help of the goalie coach, why does he even need a goalie coach?

            The Preds probably have better goalie coach than the Oilers but they couldn’t wait for Dubnyk to turn around. They demoted Dubnyk after 2 games. He was not given any chance in Montreal either.

            How many softies by Scrivens in LA? How many softie did you see Scrivens let in earlier this year before the goalie coach and head coach change? Now how many softie did you see Scrivens let in lately? How about Fasth? And how many softies do you see Dubnyk let in this year? Coincidence?

            If I remember correctly, Price had a bad season in 2012-13. And I remember a goalie coach who coached Price before said in the public that the Habs goalie coach was destroying Price. The Habs changed the goalie coach after that season and Price has been great since then. So it is Price fault for not performing that season?

          • TKB2677

            I don’t disagree with you for 1 second that Chabot did a lousy job. It’s pretty obvious he wasn’t a good enough goalie coach. But Dubnyk on RECORD has said he liked Chabot, he liked working with him. Goaltending is a specialized position. Everyone when talking about goalies use words like “different cat, different breed, etc”. So if you have your goalie and he tells you “I like Freddie, Freddie and I are on the same page, etc, etc” are you seriously going to fire the guy against your goalies wishes?

            Mac T came out in the offseason last year and made the comment that based on the body of his work, they weren’t 100% sold on Dubnyk. Totally fair, accurate comment that pretty much everyone except Dubnyk agreed with. Dubnyk took that comment and let it completely cripple him to the point that his game was SHOT. If Dubnyk was that fragile mentally that 1 comment could shatter his game like it did, can you imagine what would have happened if they fired his beloved goalie coach without his blessing?

  • WTF2

    So MacT brings in another goalie and yet he says the defense is set. What do you think will be the result next season?

    There can be no meaningful conversation about how to fix the team until the fundamental problem is removed. The three stooges must go!

  • freelancer

    Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that MacT’s big move on defence this summer will be making a trade for Tyutin from Columbus… Nikitin and Tyutin top pairing!

  • pkam

    Any NHL team looking for a capable starting goalie for next season will have Dubnyk on their list, perhaps except the Oilers.

    If a goalie who can post 0.937 SV% and 1.67 GAA, 19 wins and 40 pts in 25 games, is not capable to help this team, I wonder who else can?

  • pkam

    Lots of whinning and moaning, we are where we are, so let’s focus on what to do now. People screaming for a proven #1, well guess what, no one is giving them away so come up with a plan rather than just whinning about MacT.

    We need to drastically improve Fasth. I’m okay with Jones and Scrivens going into next year, but hope at max. we would just give up Montreal’s 2nd rounder for Jones. Likely not enough for them as he is an important backup, so scout the hell out of every organization and league and find another goalie worth taking a gamble on. Also like the idea of hiring Anaheim’s goalie scouts.

    • Mike Krushelnyski

      Haha “let’s come up with a plan”, like if we all sign a petition for a trade proposal the Oilers will be obligated to do it?

      All we can do is whinn (I assume that’s the root of ‘whinning’) about the guy who promised bold moves, the worst is in the rearview, turning the corner etc. and delivered what is all but guaranteed to be the worst season in franchise history with no hope on the horizon.

      • Darth Oiler

        The idea is to come up with an idea, or at least an opinion on an idea. Just having a “Whine” about MacT won’t help anything and gets tiring after reading it on 40 out of 50 comments.

        Perhaps I’m a homer but i don’t see things as that bleak. This season is a write off, but we get a good player at the draft. Nurse and Draisaitl season in the AHL next year then hopefully push their way onto the team. Hall, Ebs, Nuge, Schultz will all be a year older and a year better. This team has always been built for a 2016 takeoff.

        The issue here in this article is about Jones. It’s an important question. Your thoughts on Jones?

        • Mike Krushelnyski

          I think Jones is another “maybe” like Dubnyk, Scrivens and Fasth were. I think that recent history has shown that playing behind the Oilers’ D is not a place where a young, unproven goalie is going to establish confidence and consistency.

          I would be looking for an established, vocal, veteran goalie. I’m not sure how easy that will be to find, and I’m definitely not sure that MacT is up to it.

          I can’t see another young goalie coming in here and playing well unless we get a #1,2 and 3 defenceman in the summer.

  • SSB1963

    Dubnyk started out horrendous the year he was traded. But it was behind an equally horrendous D. Put him in front of a somewhat capable D and he shines. Scrivens showed in LA albeit small sample that he also is a very capable goalie. Now he started out this year horrendous just like Dubie did. in the last couple months however he’s played quite a bit better. Somewhere in the .905 to .910 range which is still slightly below the league average.

    I ask you this take any goalie say Tukko Rask at .922 and imagine a season with Nikitin, Schultz, and Ference in front of him. That .922 would become a .905 pretty quick.

    I’m not saying Scrivens is definitely the answer. All i’m saying is evaluating these goalies behind this defence might not be the best indicator of abilities. I’d say take a shot on some potential goalies like Jones for sure but if it takes a 1st round draft pick this year I’d take a pass. Also please NO to Niemi. I’d rather spend $6 million/year on a 1st Pairing D or 2nd line C.

    • TomahawkThought

      Oh OH I see it already…history is being rewritten…ergo that its not Dubnyk’s fault he sucked it was the D and/or the coacs or management etc etc…let me remind everyone including people who were too young to remember…Dubbie sucked !!! right from the first game when we had no idea how bad our defence was …right fronm the very start he was letting in goals from 40 feet out and through his legs and from everywhere so please lets not BS this…HE was AWFUL… He is great now but he was terrible dutring that stretch.

  • MGD

    Isn’t Jones an RFA at the end of the year… what if the Oilers trade for him and he refuses to sign? I’m not sure it’s a good idea for this management to be spending draft picks on unsigned players – they tried that last year (Nikitin) and have the whole NHL laughing at them for it.

  • How about renaming the Oilers just to change things up. In keeping with the dithering dopes on Kingsway and the total blandness of the entire organization why not rename them to the ‘Edmonton Beige’ ? Now the name fits the performance.

  • Zarny

    Jones is certainly a G option that should be on the Oilers’ radar.

    I would not give up Pit 1st rnd pick for him though. If you’re moving that pick for a G I’d target Bernier or Lehner over Jones.

    • SSB1963

      People would still complain that we were taking a chance on an unproven goaltender. Sometimes I think nothing will make people happy. I tend to try and look on the bright side, but certain comments on here tend to P|ss me off and give me an Ulcer.

  • Randaman

    FIX THE DEFENCE FIRST!!

    Trade Eberle or Yak ++ for a Top pairing defenseman or we will be talking about how the goaltending has let us down again next year and the year after that!!

  • Darth Oiler

    Why waste PIttsburghs 1st round pick trading for Jones? LA is a cap strapped team. Offer sheet Jones at the max 2nd round compensation level. LA can’t afford to pay that much for a backup goaltender. And if they match, they can’t trade him.

    Which means you keep the Pittsburgh pick, and only give up the 2016 2nd round for him.

    • TKB2677

      I like this idea a lot. That range is $1.7MM to $3.4MM. Jones makes $550k this year so he gets a nice enough raise that he is willing to come into this dysfunctional family, and if the offer is somewhere in the $2.5MM he costs you the same as Fasth or Scrivens.

      At least head-fake this way to get the price down, and then offer Scrivens (who did pretty good there by the above numbers) and a 3rd or 4th rounder.

      I don’t think you stop there as you either need to re-sign Fasth or get a better vet to come in as a 1B for a couple of years, but its a really good start.

      As others have noted though this is just shuffling more deck chairs if we don’t improve the D.

    • cmandev77

      Brilliant… except Dean Lombardi is working on re-signing Pearson and Jones RIGHT NOW, Toffoli is next. Wonder why??? You must be good at calling last night’s lottery numbers too, Captain Obvious.

      Nothing will help your team, not a miraculous fusion of Dryden, Tretiak, Vachon, Roy, Hasek, etc. until and unless they get legitimate top 4 D. Scrivens is a decent goalie and Fasth is not bad either, neither one is able to play god.

      Hmmm, I think your obviuosness is rubbing off on me now… Time for me to go…

      PS: Slava Voynov may like Edmonton being from Chelyabinsk.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Any goaltender evaluation until we have Defense is pointless. I felt Dubnyk got a raw deal but I am happy to see him land on his feet. I am not saying we should not lest Fasth go but I wonder what would happen if we got a read top 2 defensive core.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    No he cant. Hes played 32 games in his career. We need more experience, not less. Dubnyk has played more nhl games than scrivens and fasth combined. we already took a step back on experience. Lets not get even worse. Plus jones has a good team in front of him. No goalie is gonna be good in front of our D. Fix the D problem and it wont really matter who you throw in net.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    Article after Article after Article here on Oilersnation about “which Goaltender will fix the problem”… lol. I’m with about the 10 posts above that say FIX THE REST OF THE FREAKIN’ DEFENCE FIRST.

  • Tikkanese

    Signing a goalie will be career defining moment for MacT. I think a proven veteran would be the right choice, but difficult to get. A calm confidence is needed. MacT may have to take another chance on an unproven. While good goaltending is a must, the addition of NHL caliber defensemen is also a must. Going into next season with the current defense will end in disaster, regardless of who plays in net. MacT has a tough task ahead of him.

  • tileguy

    I’m with most of the comments here. Fix the D before focusing on our Goalies as bad as they are.

    JW,

    Why not write an article about which route the Oilers should go with Defensemen?

    Should we go after a big free agent, a “bold” trade, or should we just sit and continue the patience and watch more terrible Oilers hockey until our prospects turn into top 4 defensemen.

    Until the Oilers ice an NHL caliber defensive core it really won’t matter whose between the pipes, we might have a game or 2 stolen from a goalie but you can’t expect a Goalie (unless its Carey Price) to bring this Oilers team to the post-season on his own.

  • Kevwan

    Big fan of yours Jon. There you go again, using reason and logic to back up a rational point of view.
    That’s what we love about you.

    Now, if only we could get you a job as an analyst on sportsnets Oilers coverage instead of you know who….Spector.

    I was all for going after Jones until I read this piece…I am now against it. Well done.

    So, then Jon, have you already done a piece on which goalies the Oil should chase? i think you did, and your conclusion was niemi. Anyone else?

  • TKB2677

    We could have Carey price in net and we’d still finish bottom 5 in the league. Can’t win when you don’t have a single top 4 defenceman. Just a joke of a team….

  • TomahawkThought

    MacT is trying to find the next Kipper type deal,where an unknown 3rd string goalie is acquired for a song,and goes on to light it up between the pipes. He is more concerned on finding this type of deal (so he looks like a genius) than he is on filling the need. Craig needs to understand the job of GM is to make your team better,not to try and prove to the world that he’s the smartest guy in hockey. Until this Oilers mentality is shown the door,we’ll see no playoff hockey in the new building either.