Sharks GM Wilson explains Jones decision, ready for competition originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Though the Martin Jones era is ending in San Jose, his time with the Sharks won't be forgotten.
That's what general manager Doug Wilson wanted to make clear to the media Tuesday as the Sharks place the veteran goaltender on waivers for a contract buyout.
"This was not a decision we made lightly," Wilson said before taking questions. "It's never enjoyable to part with someone that's been to me such a big part of our franchise for the last six years. We knew that change was needed, but also not forget some of the things that he did.
"We don't go to the Stanley Cup Final without Martin Jones."
Jones was an NHL All-Star in 2016-17, the year after he played an integral role in leading the Sharks to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. He had a .918 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average the season they won the Western Conference. But those numbers haven't been matched since.
In the past three seasons, Jones has produced a lowly .896 save percentage each year. Last season, he had a career-high 3.28 goals against average. It was time for a change. And the Sharks already began making changes to their goaltenders' room before the Jones decision.
The Sharks recently traded for 25-year-old goalie Adin Hill, have Alexei Melnichuk -- among others -- under contract and added goaltender Ben Gaudreau in the third round of the 2021 NHL Draft.
"We knew that we had to address our goaltending, and that comes in many different ways," Wilson said.
But this isn't the last avenue the Sharks will look at to improve in net. Wilson said he expects San Jose to sign a veteran in free agency as well. What he couldn't answer is what went wrong with Jones. Wilson used the phrase that goalies "sometimes get too much credit, too much blame" more than once.
Now, will Hill be the no-doubt No. 1 when the 2021-22 season begins? Or will it be a mix of netminders?
The buzzword of the day was "competition."
"Competition is a big thing we're trying to do around here," Wilson said. "Last year we had a lot of young players play and get opportunities. But I've been very transparent all along and been transparent about this -- we're gonna have a lot of competition come camp.
"Competition for the net. Competition on the back end. Competition for young guys who played games last year. I'd like to bring in a couple more quality veterans. They'll have to compete and earn those spots."
After making the playoffs in four straight seasons, the Sharks went just 21-28-7 this season, missing the postseason for the second year in a row. Wilson is ready for that streak to end. He made it clear during the season that he wouldn't trade draft picks and younger players saw more time later in the season.
Now it's time to compete.
Wilson would like to add one more goalie, address the center position and another veteran winger in free agency to make experience and youth work. However, this all starts with Jones' time coming to an end and Hill's possibly beginning.
"The most important part was getting Adin. Now we see who complements him," Wilson said. "Then we've got the guys coming in underneath him. ... But we need one more guy that I think is a quality veteran, that is a stabilizer, that you know what you're going to get.
"There's a few of them out there, and we'll be exploring that as soon as tomorrow."