Martin Jones may simply be a healthier Matt Murray on a better contract for the Leafs

Dean Chaudhry
August 12, 2023  (9:14 PM)

The Leafs opting to sign Martin Jones this week was definitely puzzling. Jones hasn't had the greatest track record since the wheels fell off during the 2018-19 season, but signing a one-year deal worth less than $900,000 is probably a gamble worth taking.

After the signing was announced, it immediately put a question mark on Joseph Woll's position with the Maple Leafs and raised some questions about the depth chart. The young goaltender is more than capable and ready to handle a tandem workload, so what was the need in signing Jones? It was likely just a depth move to ensure that there was an experienced goalie with the organization, but the possibility that it was something more certainly exists, which is why so many of us are curious about the signing.
Since 2016-17, Martin Jones and Matt Murray have had nearly identical numbers with the massive caveat being that Jones carries the 64th highest cap hit for a goaltender ($875,000) while Murray currently sits in 5th place ($6.25 million, though the Leafs are only on the hook for $4.687M of that). After he was acquired from Ottawa, there was hope that Murray could revitalize his career in Toronto. Why can't the same be said about Jones?
Yes, Murray has the 2 Stanley Cups to his name and he was an instrumental part of both of those runs. However, since 2016-17 - which includes his career season - he has gone 137-84-23 but more importantly has sported a 2.83 G.A.A and a .910 SV%. Jones, on the other hand, has gone 172-129-29 with a .902 SV% and a 2.86 G.A.A in 86 more games. After winning his second cup, the wheels fell off for Murray and since 2017-18, he has sported a .906 SV% and a 2.93 G.A.A compared to Jones' .899 SV% and 2.97 G.A.A.
If we want to be more recent, Murray went 14-8-2 this past season with a .901 SV% and a 3.01 G.A.A on a Leafs team that finished 7th best in goals against and 10th best in team save percentage to Jones who went 27-13-3 with a .886 SV% and a 2.99 G.A.A on a Kraken team that finished 30th in save percentage and 19th in goals against.
Jones and Murray also share the same hot and cold runs that make them very unpredictable and hard to trust. Murray came off the IR and went 6-0-2 in 8 games with a .941 SV% and a 2.00 G.A.A before ending his season going 8-7-0 with a .882 SV% and a 3.12 G.A.A. Jones started his season 9-4-2 with a .913 SV% and a 2.13 G.A.A before sporting a .867 SV% and a 3.39 G.A.A despite going 9-1-1 in his next 13. He then posted back to back shutouts before finishing the year with a paltry .866 SV% and a 2.94 G.A.A in his final 17.
Training camp will be the ultimate battleground to see where all 3 goaltenders stand. There's always the off-chance that Woll struggles during training camp and starts the year as the team's 3rd string goaltender. If that occurs, they'll have a tandem that consists of Samsonov and Jones, which would be less than ideal.
Jones had enjoyed stretches of great success while playing as a backup with the Los Angeles Kings nearly a decade ago. He also had a few solid seasons in San Jose before his numbers took a nose dive. There's a chance that playing with a strong team like the Leafs could yield better results than anyone is anticipating. This one is the definition of a low-risk, high potential reward signing.
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Martin Jones may simply be a healthier Matt Murray on a better contract for the Leafs

Who would you rather have playing games for the Leafs between Matt Murray and Martin Jones?

Jones17458.2 %
Murray3411.4 %
Neither9130.4 %
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