Wednesday saw the departure of another piece from the magical season that opened the door for the Seattle Kraken into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Free agent goaltender Martin Jones, whose stop in the Puget Sound was short but impactful, is moving on after signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs for $875,000.
At age 33, he joins a group including Carson Soucy (Vancouver), Ryan Donato (Chicago), Daniel Sprong (Detroit), and Morgan Geekie (Boston), departing via free agency after filling key support roles for a team that landed a league-record turnaround in points and wins for a second season out of expansion.
Jones’ stop lasted just one season with the Kraken, arriving a year ago also in free agency on a one-year deal following a brief stop in Philadelphia which was necessitated with Chris Driedger to miss a large chunk of the season while recovering from a torn ACL. While his overall numbers – 27-13-3 with three shutouts and an .887 save percentage – were serviceable but still fell in the wake of peak years in San Jose and an All-Star campaign in 2016-17, he still filled a role that was extremely vital in catapulting the Kraken into playoff contention – and eventually – a magical run that fell one win short of the Conference Final.
His previous dressing room stall neighbor Philipp Grubauer – who is unquestionably entrenched in the starter’s role with Seattle – was lost in late October with a lower body ailment and would miss a month. All Jones did was backstop the Kraken to a 9-3-1 record in that span with a .914 save percentage, initially upgrading the conversation of the team from “hopeful” to “serious” status for playoff contention.
Jones’ signature work of the season though came on a daunting eight-game stretch and seven-game trip to begin January, including stops in Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Boston. Jones played in all but one game, earned a pair of shutouts, and a 3-0 blanking of the eventual Presidents Trophy winning Bruins (who hadn’t lost on home ice in regulation, in nine months). While Jones went 7-0, the Kraken went 8-0 and swept the seven-game trip, becoming the first team across two leagues (NHL and NBA) to accomplish the feat.
As his work was frontloaded in the regular season partially out of necessity, his playing time declined in the second half which was tethered to a 4-7 record and .859 save percentage in his final 11 games. He appeared in just one playoff game, recording a pair of saves in relief of Grubauer, in a game four loss to Dallas in the second round.
Jones vacates the Kraken backup role which is likely to entertain competition between a healthy Driedger and a surging Joey Daccord, who backstopped AHL Coachella Valley to the Calder Cup Final and provided adequate help in limited NHL action as a call-up last season, with a 2-1-1 record in five games.
Jones will enter his 11th NHL season and fifth career stop with a 225-163-35 record, .905 save percentage, and 28 career shutouts with Los Angeles, San Jose, Philadelphia, and the Kraken.
The Kraken will face the Maple Leafs twice this season, Nov. 30 in Toronto followed by a Jan. 21 rematch in Seattle.