Goaltending controversy in Toronto may lead to a goalie being dealt

Dean Chaudhry
December 17, 2023  (11:17)

Photo credit: NHL

When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed veteran goaltender Martin Jones during the off-season, the move was met with a lot of criticism due to his inconsistent track record. He might only be 3 games into his NHL season, but Jones is proving his doubters wrong with his solid play in goal after a relatively unsuccessful stint in the AHL to start the year.

Thrust into a larger role due to the injury of rookie goaltender Joseph Woll, Jones finished off the Ottawa Senators with 9 saves on 10 shots in his first taste of action as a Leaf a couple of weeks back. He then defeated the New York Rangers with 28 saves on 31 shots on Tuesday, before a 38-save shutout last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Maple Leafs thrashed the Penguins by a score of 7-0, but Jones still had to come up big several times during the game, especially in the 2nd period when he faced 18 shots. After the game, he was rather courteous and chalked it up to a fantastic team performance:
"We didn't give them any life, any momentum. I wasn't asked to do anything crazy out there tonight; we were solid."

After backing up Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles for parts of 2 seasons, where he posted a 1.99 G.A.A and a .923 SV% in 34 games, Jones spent the next 6 years in San Jose where his tenure was split right down the middle.
In his first three years he went 102-68-16 with a 2.40 G.A.A. and a .915 SV%, while taking the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016. His final 3 years he sported a 68-53-11 record with a 3.04 G.A.A and a .896 SV%. He then spent a season in Philadelphia posting a .900 SV% and a 3.42 G.A.A. in 35 games before finding himself with the Seattle Kraken where his pedestrian peripherals (.886 SV% and a 2.99 G.A.A.) overshadowed his 27-13-3 record.
Now with the Maple Leafs and with Ilya Samsonov struggling to regain his form, it could be high-time for Jones to take over the starting duties while Woll is sidelined. Samsonov carries a .878 SV% and a 3.51 G.A.A to go along with his 13-1-5 record. Over his last 4 gams he gone 1-0-3 with a .897 G.A.A and a shutout, but allowed 4+ goals in the 3 defeats.
Samsonov's numbers haven't improved from game 1 of the 2023-24 season - with the exception of a 2-game stretch where he defeated Vancouver and Detroit - and if he continues to struggle, Sheldon Keefe will have no choice but to use the unbeaten Jones more often. Jones is 3-0-0 as a member of the Leafs, boasting a 1.85 G.A.A and a .949 SV%.
We have to wonder whether Jones' recent return to glory could eventually result in the Leafs opting to move on from Samsonov and his $3.55M salary, instead rolling with a Woll/Jones tandem. At this point, Jones is certainly not going to clear waivers with how well he has played, so the Leafs have a few weeks to figure out which direction they want to go while Woll is still on the mend. They may very well opt to carry 3 goalies the rest of the way just in case, but depending on what their cap situation looks like once they finally shore up the blueline, they may have no choice but to trim down to 2. The question is, will those two be Woll and Samsonov or Woll and Jones?
The Maple Leafs have games against the Rangers, Buffalo, Columbus, Ottawa, Columbus, and Carolina before they ring in the new year, so expect to see a little more of Martin Jones as the Leafs operate without their rookie goaltender, who is out on a week-to-week basis with a high-ankle sprain.
Goaltending controversy in Toronto may lead to a goalie being dealt

If the Leafs opt to trade a goalie this season, who should they move?

Martin Jones242.4 %
Joseph Woll293 %
Ilya Samsonov78579.9 %
None - carry 3 goalies14514.8 %
Latest 10 stories