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LA Kings' Top 25 Under 25: #14 - Martin Jones

RFA hold-out Martin Jones has found his stock slipping precipitously in the past few years.

martin jones martin jones calling martin jones
martin jones martin jones calling martin jones
Stephen Dunn

Every time I see or hear or think about Martin Jones, I get the Aqua song "Doctor Jones" stuck in my head, and then I spend the rest of the day hollering "MARTIN JONES MARTIN JONES CALLING MARTIN JONES". It's not a good scene. Martin Jones was also part of one of my worst hockey memories ever, so...we've had a rough relationship, me and Marty. And now he's a contract holdout, refusing to re-sign for the money the Kings have offered him. This is just like the Drew Doughty holdout, except that nobody in the entire world really cares.

Rank DOB Nationality Draft Vote total
14 10/01/1990 CAN Undrafted 96

(Regarding the vote total: please remember that there were 10 voters, ranking from 25 to 1. Thus, the maximum possible vote total was 250.)

Season Team League GP SV% GAA
2008-09 Calgary Hitmen WHL 55 .915 2.08
2009-10 Calgary Hitmen WHL 48 .919 2.21
2010-11 Ontario Reign ECHL 1 .867 3.76
2010-11 Manchester Monarchs AHL 39 .924 2.25
2011-12 Manchester Monarchs AHL 41 .919 2.60
2012-13 Manchester Monarchs AHL 56 .919 2.53

(I'm not including win-loss record, because judging goalies on win-loss records is basically the stupidest thing imaginable. GAA isn't very useful in that regard either, but the table looked so lonely and tiny without it.)

The thing about Martin Jones is that it turns out that he might not be very good after all. Now 23, he went undrafted and was signed by the Kings at 18 after performing well at a rookie camp try-out. In the two seasons after being signed, he took over the Hitmen's starting position and emerged as one of CHL's best goalies. The Hitmen went deep in the playoffs for both those seasons, and Jones ended his major junior career with the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL's top goaltender.

The Kings' organisational weakness in net meant that Jones played only one game in the ECHL, then immediately formed a goaltending tandem in Manchester with Jeff Zatkoff (remember him?). He had a stellar rookie season, posting a sparkling .924 sv% in 39 games, and playing in the AHL All-Star game. It appeared that Jones had made the jump to pro hockey seamlessly, adjusting to the speedier and more skilled AHL with ease. (I vote that we call this misleading condition "Steve Mason Syndrome".)

Jones has spent two more seasons since then toiling in the AHL, and it appears that his progress has stagnated somewhat. His save percentage of .919 has remained steady and, while he's played solidly enough to retain the starting position, there have been rumblings from the Kings organisation - including from Dean Lombardi himself - that his lack of visible progress has been troubling. Jones is a large, solid goalie, and his raw skill and athleticism have never been questioned, but his problem is consistency, and there's a point at which consistency issues no longer seem like youthful foibles and begin to seem like permanent features.

The complicating factor for Jones' future is the fact that the Kings, once a goaltending graveyard, now have so many goaltenders they don't know what to do with them. Jonathan Quick and Ben Scrivens have the NHL jobs locked down, but veteran Mathieu Garon will also be at Kings camp training camp coming up. Mathias Niederberger, one of the OHL's best goaltenders last season, has been signed to an AHL-only contract which means that he can only play in Manchester. And finally, Jean-Francois Berube has probably learned all that he can at the ECHL level and is likely...wait for it...jonesin' for a promotion. (Sorry.) (Oh, and I even forgot about freshly-drafted Patrik Bartosak, who was named the CHL's best goaltender last season. He's almost guaranteed to start in the ECHL, but if he excels there, he could challenge for an AHL job pretty soon too.)

The simple fact is that, while Jones might still have a bright NHL future ahead of him, it's looking like that future may not be with the Kings. I can't judge a player for wanting to get paid what he thinks he deserves, but I also can't judge the team for playing hardball with a replaceable commodity. Goalies might take longer to develop than skaters, but Jones isn't a prospect fresh from juniors anymore - he's starting to reach the time in his career where he has to show real progress, or it'll be time to turn to other young guys eager and ready to supplant him.

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