The San Jose Sharks were quite active at the close of trading in the 2021 NHL. They moved their offseason signing from Devan Dubnyk to the Colorado Avalanche for a 5th round selection in 2021 and veteran defenseman Greg Pateryn. They also acquired goalkeeper Magnus Chrona from Tampa Bay Lighting. This is a good opportunity to check where the goalkeepers are in the system and how they have performed. The potential pyramid will need to be updated at a later date.
The Jones roller coaster continues
After earning the first star of the month in March, Martin Jones has been struggling recently. He started April with a 30-point shutout against the Los Angeles Kings on April 2nd and came back the next evening with a win in two consecutive games, saving 35 out of 37. He’s 6-2 against his previous team this season and 19-6-3 for his career. If only he could only play against the kings. The wheels have been falling off the rails since early April, and whatever lean playoffs are hoping for, the Sharks thought they were essentially gone.
Martin Jones, San Jose Haie (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)
Part of Sharks’ reluctance to stray from Jones is undoubtedly partly due to his big deal. He will then be signed for three more seasons for $ 5.75 million per season. Another part of the reason is likely that Jones did really well over the three seasons from 2015-2018, which included the Stanley Cup Finals and the Western Conference Finals. According to During that time, he scored a whopping 21 more than expected goals in developing hockey, which was good for 13th place in the NHL.
For the past three seasons, including this combined, Jones GSAx is -34.74. This is the fifth worst of all goalkeepers, just ahead of Joonas Korpisalo (-37.62), former teammate Jonathan Quick (-38.03), Keith Kinkaid (-38.83) and the recently traded Dubnyk (-54.96). The truth is that team play must bear much of the blame, both for supporting Jones during his run as being good, and now that he seems so bad. In any case, it is long time to deviate from Jones.
Josef Korenar, whose name is not pronounced as most non-Czech speakers would think, made his NHL debut this season against the worst in the Honda West Division Anaheim Ducks on April 14, 2021. It seemed like a really good opportunity for Korenar, but unfortunately he didn’t cash out. He allowed four goals in 27 shots and while none were the soft ones, he didn’t do enough to keep his team in the game. The Sharks had an expected goal against 1.8, so adequate protection, and if Korenar hadn’t allowed that fourth goal at the very end of the game in a troubled defensive game, things would have been much better.
San Jose Sharks’ Hockey Prospecting by Josef Korenar and Alexei Melnichuk courtesy of @ByronMBader and www.HockeyProspecting.com
No permanent conclusions should be drawn about Korenar’s one-off start, but we hope to see more starts from him before the end of the season so the Sharks can make an informed decision. If he can at least get close to the league average, he’d make a decent backup for Jones next season and maybe even steal starts. Much of this will depend on how the other goalkeepers play in the system, but the Korenar is arguably the most NHL capable of all potential goalkeepers, so the choice will likely either leave him behind as a substitute in 2021-22 or let him go. Based on what I’ve seen, I would probably just re-sign it unless a better opportunity arises.
The potential goalkeeper I’ve been looking forward to the most since signing as a free agent in spring 2020 is Alexei Melnichuk. After playing in the KHL while the NHL was still on hold in the fall of 2020, Melnichuk made his much-anticipated North American debut in 2021. The transition didn’t go smoothly as he moved from the AHL to the taxi squad and even made his debut NHL debut to the relief of Jones on February 11th.
Alexei Melnichuk, SKA St. Petersburg (Photo by Anatoly MedvedTASS via Getty Images)
Melnichuk has only played for the Barracuda in 11 games and has shared the network with Korenar, Sam Harvey and Zachary Sawcheknko. With Korenar now in the NHL, hopefully Melnichuk will get more consistent playing time for the Barracuda. The future for Melnichuk is very bright, as can be seen from the Hockey Prospecting table, in which both he and Korenar are represented.
The great Swede
At the close of trading in 2021, the takeover of Magnus Chrona by the Sharks from the Lightning was an absolute must. The Lightning certainly doesn’t look like they’ll need goalkeeping help for many years as Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy has signed for seven more seasons after that. San Jose Sharks’ Hockey Prospecting by Magnus Chrona and Zachary Emond courtesy of @ByronMBader and www.HockeyProspecting.com
Chrona was designed by the Lightning back in 2015 and was a surprising pick. He made a good move to the NCAA in his rookie season but took a step back in 2020-21 as the pioneers struggled too. Chrona will be returning to the University of Denver for its junior season and hopes to get back in shape. If you compare him to another shark’s prospect, he seems to have a slightly better chance than Zachary Emond of being an NHLer.
Who will patrol the shark tank fold in the future?
Of course, nothing is certain, but it seems like Melnichuk might be the guy. He is the one they are most patient with, who is really working on his development and not throwing him into games this season when their chances of winning the trophy are essentially zero. He has the highest equivalency per hockey prospecting and the best track record to date.
It is possible that Korenar will regain his form two seasons ago and become his own in the NHL. I think that’s pretty unlikely, but chances are he’s her type. I also find it unlikely that Jones will regain his shape from a few seasons ago, that Korenar will be her type in the long run.
Chrona has the greatest outside chance of becoming an NHL goalkeeper, but there is still plenty of time for him. Emond, who was once promising, got a catch in his development despite being young. Either of these two could certainly make great strides in the next two to three years and become the answer. If I had to bet, I would go all-in on Melnichuk.
Victor Nuño is a resident physician in Santa Cruz and an associate professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Touro University in California. He’s been an avid hockey fan since the San Jose Sharks entered the NHL in 1991. He plays, observes and consumes everything that has to do with hockey, but especially the Sharks and AHL subsidiary Barracuda. He is also the father of two beautiful young girls and the husband of a wonderful woman.