Many hockey fans probably didn’t even know the name Josef Korenar coming into the season. He’s an undrafted goaltender who had spent the two previous years with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda and last season, he had a very poor .891 save percentage in 33 games.
However, after Devan Dubnyk was dealt at the trade deadline, Korenar has had a chance to prove himself with the Sharks. Korenar has played nine NHL games since then, posting a .902 save percentage. While that’s still not a great stat, he's just 23 years old and given the kind of chances that San Jose gives up on a nightly basis, it’s more impressive than it appears for sure.
So how does Korenar’s play affect the Sharks’ expansion draft plans?
I think there was still a chance Korenar could have been protected, even if he hadn’t gotten into NHL action this year, just based on Jones’ play and contract. However, while I’m not sure Korenar is necessarily the goalie of the future, the Sharks now have an easy decision to make in protecting him.
It’s clear that 31-year-old Martin Jones and his $5.75 million aren't helping the Sharks. Jones is on pace for a third straight season at an .896 save percentage and while it’s wildly unlikely he gets selected, even with assets added in, I see no reason that the Sharks would use their protection spot on him.
The Sharks will be able to protect pretty much all of their quality players and if Korenar is left exposed, there’s at least a decent chance he could be selected by Seattle, just based on who would still be available for selection from the team. There’s a clear scenario to protect him without exposing a different player of any value and the Sharks should take it.
I don’t know if Korenar playing his way into a protection spot within a month of his NHL debut says more about him or the team but regardless, Korenar is likely to be protected over Jones in this year’s expansion draft.
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Which goalie do you think the Sharks will protect in the expansion draft?