Sharks Acquire Martin Jones from Boston, But The Kings Shouldn't Be Too Upset
It was always a bit of a puzzle that the Bruins had requested Martin Jones in the Milan Lucic trade, since Boston already had Tuukka Rask, one of the best starters in the NHL, signed for quite some time. Keeping a good but relatively expensive backup like Martin Jones around to play 15 games a year didn't make lot of sense for a cap-strapped team like Boston.
Today we learned what Boston was thinking: they flipped Martin Jones to San Jose for a 2016 first and a minor prospect. Rich Hammond tweeted that Lombardi had not wanted Jones to go to the Western Conference, much less the Pacific division, hence the inclusion of Jones in the Lucic trade. So we can infer that the Kings are upset by this development.
Either Lombardi extracted a promise from Bruins general manager Don Sweeney not to trade Martin Jones to the West, or he didn't. If Sweeney made that promise and lied, then Lombardi is pretty blameless. But if Lombardi just traded Jones over to Boston and assumed Boston wouldn't make a further deal, then that was plain stupid, especially since it was obvious all along to anyone who looked at Boston's roster that it made no sense for both Rask and Jones to stay there.
So if Hammond is correct in saying the Kings really wanted to keep Martin Jones out of San Jose, then the Kings either got cheated or are really stupid, and we don't know which. However, I would argue that keeping Martin Jones out of San Jose is not a big deal for the Kings at all. That's not because Martin Jones is bad. He has solid, if not amazing AHL numbers over a large sample of shots, and has been good in his limited NHL opportunities so far. As a 25 year old he should have a lot of productive years ahead of him and since he's currently an RFA his next contract will probably pay him a bit less than he's worth. There's still definitely a chance he goes bad à la Jacob Markstrom or innumerable other failed goalie prospects, but he's a reasonable player for San Jose to take a chance on.
But the Sharks didn't get Martin Jones for free. They got Martin Jones, strengthening their team, but they also gave up a 2016 first round pick, which will weaken them for years to come. San Jose picked 9th overall this year, and Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are going to be a year older and--probably--a year less effective in 2015-16. San Jose may well rebound next year, especially if they aggressively pursue further upgrades in free agency, but it's not at all implausible that San Jose just gave up what will turn out to be a top 10 pick for Martin Jones, which is not a great trade at all. If San Jose misses out on some dynamic skating prospect next year because of this trade, in the long run LA may be glad this happened.
I can certainly understand that LA's front office might be miffed if Boston lied to them (or were deceptive without outright lying). But San Jose making this trade is hardly a disaster for LA. And as one more minor bright point, this trade is undoubtedly a very good thing for Martin Jones. Instead of spending the next year or two rotting behind one of the NHL's best goalies in Boston, he'll be given the chance to seize the starting job he's always wanted. I'm happy for him.
Of course, the rather hefty return Boston received for Jones does further reveal how much the Kings gave up for one year of Milan Lucic. If there's anything for LA to regret, it's all the quality prospects they needlessly sacrificed for one year of a solid top-six forward. But that is for another post...