Maple Leafs: Can Martin Jones Earn a Backup Role Next Season?

Last offseason saw almost every NHL team sign or already have a third string goalie going into the season in case anything happened. For many teams, this was a huge help and those third string goalies contributed a good amount. For the Toronto Maple Leafs, they might have been in trouble if they didn't have Martin Jones in that role.

It is the second season in a row where Jones has played much more than he was expected to for his NHL team and played very well. While Philipp Grubauer, Chris Driedger, and Joey Daccord were in the mix last season for the Seattle Kraken, Jones was the one who started the most games (42), played in the most games (48), and won 27 times. This season was different, but Jones made a big difference all the same.

Jones passed through waivers at the beginning of the season and the tandem in net for the Maple Leafs was Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll. Between Samsonov struggling mightily early on and Woll suffering an injury that kept him out for a while, all of the pressure fell on Jones, who started 18 games, has gone 11-7-1, has a 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%, and two shutouts. Of the three goalies for Toronto, Jones' GAA and SV% are the best.

The 34-year-old Jones is one a one-year deal at $875,000 AAV and will likely be a free agent next season. There isn't room in Toronto if the team wants to bring Samsonov back, which would be wise. Even if Jones did re-sign with the Maple Leafs as the third string to start the season again, a team will pick him up when he hits waivers this time.

So that leaves where Jones could play and if he could get a role as a backup next season after consistently showing that he is still capable of playing at a high level and performing. Unexpected injuries that could happen will definitely play a part in if Jones gets a bigger role next season, but options are very limited. At most, all I can see is potentially the Dallas Stars or Tampa Bay Lightning, and that's if Scott Wedgewood isn't extended and Matt Murray isn't trusted to backup full time in Dallas or the Lightning weren't thrilled with Jonas Johansson's play this season (.890 SV%). Jones will have a team to play for and deserves more playing time, but it isn't easy to come by in the NHL, even after success.

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