Martin Jones putting in the work at Leafs practice
Photo credit: The Leafs Nation

Latest issue in Toronto involves 3rd string goaltender Martin Jones

Published January 21, 2024 at 11:29

The goaltending issues in Toronto this season are well-documented, what with Ilya Samsonov forgetting how to be an NHL goaltender in just a few short months and rising star Joseph Woll suffering a significant injury and missing a lot of time in his first full season. Thankfully, the Leafs' backup plan had paid off. Leafs GM Brad Treliving took out one hell of an insurance policy when he signed veteran netminder Martin Jones to a 1-year deal for slightly above the league minimum salary.

At the start of the year, nobody was expecting Jones to play a feature role for the Leafs. However, since Woll's injury, Jones has suited up in 17 games for the Leafs and has become a temporary starting goalie again. His collective numbers are excellent for a 3rd string goalie, as the 34-year-old boasts a 2.64 GAA and a .911 SV%. However, his recent stretch of games tells an entirely different story - a much more concerning one.

Jones had posted a .900 SV% or better in 9 of his first 12 games of the season. In 6 of those 9 games, Jones' save percentage was above .950, including two shutouts on December 16th and January 2nd. That will certainly help pad a goalie's stats. But, in Jones' last 5 games, the numbers have dipped considerably.

Since January 11th, Jones has just 1 win, going 1-3-1 over that span. Sure, things ebb and flow with NHL goalies and a 1-3-1 record isn't enough to cause a team to press the panic button, especially when we're talking about a 3rd string netminder. However, when you dive deeper into the numbers, it becomes glaringly obvious that the problem may not resolve itself with more starts.

Jones has posted has not posted a SV% above .903 since January 9th. In those 5 games since, the undrafted netminder has posted a dreadful .849 SV%, and is averaging 4 goals against per game, which isn't much better than Samsonov's collective .802 SV% over his previous 5 starts. Just last night, Jones posted a horrendous .714 SV%, allowing 6 goals against in Vancouver. The hits just keep on coming in Toronto.

There's a good chance that it's the heavy workload that is causing Jones' recent slide. The veteran goaltender has started 15 of the last 17 games for the Leafs, including 10 of the last 11 games. There's not a team in the league who would expect a 3rd stringer to handle that sort of volume.

The troubling detail here is that the Leafs don't have any other options until Joseph Woll returns, hopefully after the All-Star break. The alternative would be to pull off a trade for a goaltender, but with Brad Treliving still searching for a top-4 defenseman, the likelihood that he'd abandon that search to switch gears and acquire a goaltender doesn't appear to be too high.
January 21   |   1016 answers
Latest issue in Toronto involves 3rd string goaltender Martin Jones

Should the Leafs give Ilya Samsonov an extended run of games with Martin Jones struggling as much as he has?

Yes65864.8 %
No35835.2 %
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