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Sharks fill two important needs with Martin, Jones

by Dan Rosen

San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson talked about patience and how there still was plenty of time to build a roster for next season as he left the 2015 NHL Draft on Saturday without the goaltender or defenseman he was seeking.

Four days later, he has both.

The Sharks signed 34-year-old defenseman Paul Martin to a four-year contract Wednesday. Financial terms were not released, but TSN reported the contract has an average annual value of $4.85 million.

Martin's signing came less than 24 hours after the Sharks acquired and signed 25-year-old goalie Martin Jones to be their No. 1 goalie.

San Jose traded a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and forward prospect Sean Kuraly to the Boston Bruins for Jones. They then signed him to a three-year contract, which TSN reported to have an average annual value of $3 million.

"Up to this point we're pleased with where we are sitting today," Wilson said Wednesday. "There's a couple pieces we might be exploring, but having these two crucial pieces in place gives us more time to explore some things."

Wilson stressed the word "crucial" because his goal this offseason was to stabilize the Sharks' back end. That was the priority, one that was stressed by coach Peter DeBoer in his first press conference after being hired May 28.

Last season, San Jose was 24th in goals-against per game (2.76), 25th on the penalty kill (78.5 percent), and 14th in 5-on-5 shot-attempts percentage (51.28).

"We said we were going to clean up our own end, be harder to play against and lay that foundation," DeBoer said. "This group, from the goaltender through the defense group, looks really solid. I think it has the makings of being a real tough group to play against."

Martin has long been a defenseman who plays a lot of minutes in all situations; he averaged 22:47 per game last season. He has had a key role on his team's penalty kill throughout his 11 seasons in the NHL, including the past five with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Not the reason we signed him, but another intriguing thing about his game was his ability to kill penalties," DeBoer said. "I got a chance to speak with some of the coaches in Pittsburgh, and they raved about him not only on the ice, but off the ice."

Jones never has been a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, but his track record as a top goalie in the American Hockey League and Western Hockey League, coupled with the 34 games he played with the Los Angeles Kings the past two seasons, leads Wilson to believe he can be.

DeBoer got to know Jones at the 2015 IIHF World Championship. DeBoer was an assistant coach for Canada, and Jones was the backup goalie.

"He's got a huge upside," DeBoer said. "The thing I liked about him was his demeanor. He's very calm, very composed. He's got that unflappability in his character when you sit down and talk to him. I find a lot of the great goalies have that."

The Sharks defense that will play in front of Jones now features Martin, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun and Brenden Dillon, who signed a five-year contract Tuesday. Mirco Mueller is expected to have a bigger role, and Matt Tennyson and Dylan DeMelo will compete for roster spots.

DeBoer said he can envision Martin playing with Burns based on how he saw Burns play with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis during the World Championship. Burns had 11 points in helping Canada win gold.

"[Burns] partnered with Dan Hamhuis, who is a steady, safe, calming presence, and I thought it really supported and helped [Burns] with his game," DeBoer said. "I see Paul Martin being able to slide in there and have that same effect. All coaches write down combinations in the summer hoping they'll work, but that's my initial thoughts on it."

Martin said he wanted to sign with the Sharks because he thinks they can compete for the Stanley Cup even though they didn't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

"To be able to get some term and know I'm going to be here for a while and I'm going to get a chance to win and build on what they have here is big for me," Martin said. "The core group of guys are a good group to be able to play with, and obviously it's a good city to be in if you're moving out west."

Wilson said his decision to sign Martin was influenced by Sharks director of player development Larry Robinson and center Joe Pavelski.

Robinson coached Martin when they were together with the New Jersey Devils. Pavelski has played with Martin for the United States in international competitions, including the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"To me, a wise man uses all of his resources," Wilson said. "The people that could give me information that we needed to make this decision were all involved."

For Wilson, though, the key to signing Martin was the mutual interest.

"What I loved about him is he wanted to be here," Wilson said. "His agent, Ben Hankinson, said he wants to win. He had many teams after him but it really resonated that he wanted us and we wanted him. He just plays the game the right way.

"We've got our [defense] that we feel is in a really good place, trending up."


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