Overall, Chuck Fletcher was aggressive this offseason. He knew what he wanted and went for it. The Philadephia Flyers became more stubborn defensively, increased in size, and addressed their struggles on the penalty kill.
An aggressive offseason from Fletcher works in theory. The lineup is an upgrade from last season. The Flyers may be on the road to the playoffs in 2021-2022. The only position lingering with uncertainty takes place between the pipes.
Many teams were looking for a goaltender following roster adjustments affected by the expansion and flat cap. Included in that list were the Flyers. Elliott seemed like a clear option to return before the beginning of free agency. He wound up with the Tampa Bay Lightning on a 1yr/$900k contract. Fletcher signed Martin Jones for 1yr/$2mil.
Again, this is another signing that relies on faith versus recent performance.
Martin Jones and the Market
Contract negotiations worked in the favor of Martin Jones. A season ago, Brian Elliott took on the starting goaltender workload for $1.5mil. While both finished with a save percentage under 90%, only one owned a winning record, including overtime losses.
Next season, Jones will make $1.1mil more than Elliott. It’s a slight overpay, but not as bad as the Dallas Stars paying the same contract to Braden Holtby.
Chuck Fletcher wasn’t in the mood to give up any additional draft capital, especially a package including a first-round pick for Darcy Kuemper.
Antti Raanta signed a similar contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. The difference is the term of the deal. Raanta initialed a multi-year commitment from the Hurricanes, and Jones accepted a one-year. Overall, the Philadelphia Flyers did take a careful approach towards a new, inexpensive goaltender.
Kim Dillabaugh played a role in Jones’ arrival to the Flyers. His relationship with Dillabaugh should instill shared chemistry with Carter Hart. Familiarity is a strong hand to play when shopping for a necessary, unrestricted free agent. With the Los Angeles Kings, Jones kept above a 90% save percentage and under a 2.25GAA. Assuming a backup role may refresh Jones because, as a starter, his GAA increased every season.
Projecting Jones in Philadelphia
Due to the defensive overhaul, the Philadelphia Flyers are built to aide their goaltenders.
Not only should Carter Hart recover from last season, but so could Martin Jones. Over the last few seasons, the San Jose Sharks were not defensively sound. Next season will be four removed since the Sharks last finished in the top half of their division. Though last season doesn’t make it seem so, the Flyers may rescue Jones.
Chuck Fletcher signed forwards that make the team more physical, shifting the philosophy to a defensive-minded gameplan. Building from the net to the forwards acts as a security blanket for an uncontested goaltender tandem.
The majority of each forward line acts as a dual-threat, matching their offensive production with defensive performances. Adding Nate Thompson and Cam Atkinson tightens the fore and backcheck. Combine that with high-energy efforts from Scott Laughton, Wade Allison, and Sean Couturier. Suddenly, a shift in philosophy makes Philadelphia an unpleasant road trip for many NHL franchises. Alain Vigneault has the right personnel to provide more than enough assistance to his goaltenders on a nightly basis.
If Jones can find his 2018-2019 self, it would be acceptable for a backup goaltender. With Kim Dillabaugh, the ceiling is a tad higher. Maybe Philadelphia becomes a place where veterans rediscover their game in 2021-2022.
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