With San Jose goaltender Martin Jones scheduled to make his 42nd start of the season tomorrow, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area wonders whether the 27-year-old’s workload has been too heavy. As it stands now, Jones is on pace to start nearly 70 games in 2016-17. The scribe spoke with former Sharks net minder Brian Boucher to seek his opinion on the matter. In Boucher’s estimation, if San Jose is to seriously contend for a Stanley Cup, they need to find a way to cut Jones’ workload, perhaps to something in the neighborhood of 65 games over a full schedule.
Boucher also questions whether the team fully trusts rookie goalie Aaron Dell, who has posted terrific numbers in limited action. Dell, 27, has won six of his eight starts and has posted a S% of 0.930 with a GAA of 1.97. The Sharks are currently in first place in the Pacific Division, 13 points ahead of fourth place Calgary, and assuming they can maintain that cushion it’s quite possible the Sharks will give Dell more time between the pipes in order to keep Jones as fresh as possible for a playoff run. If not, the team might peruse the trade market in search of a quality backup, much like the did a year ago by acquiring James Reimer ahead of the deadline.
Elsewhere in the Pacific Division:
- Sticking with San Jose, it appears the Sharks are going to be welcoming young forward Tomas Hertl back to the lineup, as Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News reports. Hertl, who has been skating with the team for the last week, missed the team’s last 31 games with a knee sprain. Pashelka is unsure where Hertl will slot into the lineup upon his return but he notes the 23-year-old Czech had been the team’s third-line pivot prior to the injury.
- David Staples of Postmedia suggests it’s time for the Edmonton Oilers to split up Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, noting that each has become a solid defensive pivot and slotting one on the other’s wing is a waste. The notion represents a possible solution to the club’s third-line center question as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as solid two-way pivot, would slide down the lineup in this scenario. The flip side, of course, is such a move weakens the team on the wing thus lessening the possibility of the team listening on offers for Jordan Eberle and perhaps increasing the odds Edmonton might rather add a winger prior to the trade deadline.