You don't need to be a San Jose Sharks fan to know that goaltending has been one of the team's biggest weaknesses in the past few years.
Martin Jones hasn't been able to be the guy the team needed and a slew of backups haven't been able to take over the mantle. Could Adin Hill finally be the guy the Sharks needed all along?
The Sharks traded for Hill just prior to the expansion roster freeze on Saturday afternoon, moving a second-round pick and minor-league goaltender Josef Korenar to the Coyotes to acquire him. It's a low-risk move for the Sharks if it means finally having a proper No. 1 goalie, but, of course, that's a tough thing to declare for a guy with just 49 starts in five years.
But Coyotes fans always believed in Hill, who is set to become an RFA later this month. Just 25, he's still young enough to be finding his bearings, and with Darcy Kuemper between the pipes, Arizona used him mainly in a backup role while giving him significant starting time with Tuscon of the AHL. The Coyotes were never a good team in Hill's time there, and the Sharks aren't any better. But San Jose clearly brought him in because they liked his potential, and it's not like he can be much worse than Jones, right?
It's hard to really compare the two, simply because Hill has such a small sample size to work with. Jones did see a performance upgrade last year compared to 2019-20, but finished with a 0.4 wins-above-replacement rating, .907 save percentage and a dismal minus-8.03 goals-saved-above-average at 5-on-5 in 34 games. Hill had a 1.0 WAR, and .913 SP and minus-1.84 GSAA - far from anything to write home about, but still playing on a team outside of the post-season race.
Hill's stats of a .916 SP and minus-2.16 GSAA are far better than Jones' .897 SP and horrible minus-63.83 over the past three seasons suggests Hill deserves a legitimate shot at the No. 1 spot in San Jose. Jones has $5.75 million in cap space and while he'll be exposed to Seattle, it's unlikely the Kraken - or any team for that matter - will take a chance on him at this point.
The Sharks aren't going to be a good team this season, and probably for another few. The club has just under $10 million in projected cap space right now and need to address other needs like scoring and defensive stability. Goaltending is a huge issue, but perhaps the Sharks actually see this as a short-term solution instead of spending big bucks on the open market. So we'll see.
Hill has had multiple flashes that suggest he can be an NHL starter - and a fair number of times where it's the complete opposite. It'll be interesting to see just how much confidence the Sharks truly have in the youngster and whether or not he's capable of being the team's long-term solution in net. He's young enough that if he truly breaks out, he could hold the team's No. 1 spot for the better part of a decade.
It's a low-risk, high-reward for the Sharks. Let's see it pays off in a big way. Or San Jose can move on from Jones and bring in a big name over the off-season. Either way, things are getting interesting in California.