Ex Kraken, Martin Jones

Ex-Kraken Jones Loved Seattle; Faces Rare Challenge

Talkin’ Kraken

In exclusive conversations with Seattle Hockey Insider, former Kraken goalie Martin Jones and his agent Ray Petkau talked about “Jonesy’s” departure from the Kraken, his other free agency options, and the unique challenge awaiting him in Toronto.

For the first time in a decade, since he was a young, undrafted goalie eventually winning the back-up spot for the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in 2013-’14, Jones will enter a competition to be the back-up to Ilya Samsonov with the Maple Leafs. The 33-year-old Jones signed a one-year, one-way $875,000 contract on August 9th.

“I’m going in, I’m going to have the best possible camp I can have, and whatever happens … there’s a lot of ‘what-if’s’,” Jones said. “I’ve just got to play as well as I can and it’s a long year, guys move around, so just have a great camp and I think it’ll be about playing well at the right time this year.”

“Toronto was one of the teams that for a few seasons was on his short list, one of his preferred destinations,” Petkau said. “At this point it looks like there’s a crowded crease, but there are plenty of teams with a crowded crease, and it kind of works its way out throughout the season.”

Some in Toronto have raised questions about Samsonov’s conditioning and ability to stay healthy, so there’s that potential opportunity as well, but for now it’s 25-year-old netminder Joseph Woll standing in Jones’s way for the back-up job.

Although injury prone and despite just 11 games of regular season NHL experience, Woll is coming off an impressive performance at the end of last season and in four playoff games, making 40 saves in the Maple Leafs elimination overtime loss to the Florida Panthers in Game-5 of the 2nd-round.

“There were other options in free agency for Jonesy, at different times, but this was an appealing team,” Petkau pointed out. “The chance to win in Toronto was more important than some other opportunities where maybe there wasn’t a competition or some other differences. I think that shows how important winning is to players, he’s a veteran, he’s played a lot of NHL games and seen a lot, but they get a taste of winning and he wants more of that.”

The Threat Of Waivers

Barring injury, the Maple Leafs won’t be carrying three goalies, so at some point coming out of camp either Woll or Jones could be waived. In a toss-up, one would think Woll would have the advantage simply based on his age and potential.

For Jones that could mean being plucked off waivers by another NHL team or spending time in the American Hockey League for the first time since 2014.

“I’m about as prepared for that as you can be, yep,” Jones said. “I’m aware of all of the situations that could happen. I’m obviously aware of it, but I just have to take care of the task at hand and have a good camp.”

Woll is making $100,000 less than Jones and also gets paid the same amount whether he’s in the NHL or AHL.

Staying With Kraken

None of this suggests that Jones didn’t entertain the thought of staying with the Kraken. In fact, for a time at the end of the season he believed there was a good chance he’d be back.

“It was up in the air, until right to the end,” he stated. “I loved playing there.”

“He was very open to it, it just didn’t work out,” Petkau points out. “He loved his time there, he had a great time with that group and really enjoyed the coaching staff, management and the teammates. That was a really solid group of people there.”

“It was a really interesting team, we played some really good hockey for stretches,” Jones said. “We weren’t perfect, but we found ways to win a lot of nights, kind of had a gritty, mean game, worked really hard, made it tough on teams. Just being a newer franchise and building and all that, it was cool just to see all of the excitement around the city and the staff. It was very cool.”

Practical Pedigree

Aside from getting his name etched on the Stanley Cup following his rookie season with LA, Jones twice back-stopped the San Jose Sharks to long playoff runs, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 that ended in a six-game loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In 2019 he won two seven-game series before losing to the eventual champion St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final in six games. Since then he’s only seen NHL postseason action once: 18 minutes of third period duty, holding down the fort in relief for the Kraken in a 6-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on May 9th.

Although Jones says he hasn’t thought or planned far enough ahead to determine the age of his eventual retirement, he knows his window of opportunity is getting smaller. More reason to work as hard as he can to get back to the promised land.

“I was pretty lucky to do that and it was cool to be a part of,” Jones said of winning the Cup. “You learn a lot, especially as a young guy, you just learn so much from those experiences. Valuable tool, a lot of great memories, and yeah, it was unbelievable, you ask anyone who’s won a Cup and it’s a pretty special time.”

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Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.