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Adin Hill Has Risen to the Occasion So Far for San Jose

The 25-year-old goaltender has been a big piece of San Jose's early season success. Many believed he'd become a No. 1 guy somewhere, and the Sharks might be able to benefit from that in a big way.
Adin Hill

It seemed almost like a throwaway deal in a day full of high-profile trades. 

Ryan Ellis, Barclay Goodrow, Jared McCann, Nolan Patrick, Cody Glass and Andrew Ladd were all a part of moves on July 16, 2021, a day with eight trades. With the expansion and NHL drafts just days away, teams were getting busy. 

So, honestly, it's OK if you didn't think too much when Arizona sent Adin Hill to the San Jose Sharks for Josef Korenar and a second-round pick in 2022. But the Sharks knew it: they had a potential No. 1 goalie on their hands.

Shortly after, Martin Jones was let go, handing the crease over to Hill and veteran James Reimer. It was a new era in San Jose.

Through three games, Hill has a perfect record - a small sample size, sure, but you can't deny how good he's been. Even in a 5-3 win to Toronto on Friday, Hill came up big with a handful of top stops, including a big glove save with a minute to go when it was just 4-3 - "It was an insane stop," Sharks forward Jonathan Dahlén said after the game. 

Now, the Sharks need Hill to be "the guy" for the next six months to help the team take advantage of a weak Pacific Division. Reimer looked good in his NHL debut and the Sharks should get some solid mileage out of him. After all, Reimer looked like Carolina's better goalie at points during his tenure there. But Hill has been favored early on and should factor into the team's more long-term plans at 25 years old.

Hill looked like the goaltender of the future for the Coyotes for a time and showed some magical spurts in 49 games with the club over five years. He never could become the No. 1 - that was Darcy Kuemper's job - so San Jose seemed like a good fit. Jones' tenure ended up being a disaster despite some positive moments early on, and while the Coyotes were doing everything in their power to do a quick firesale, the Sharks seemed like a good spot for refuge.

Is it risky to run with an inexperienced guy like Hill as your No. 1? Maybe. But Hill had multiple flashes in Arizona that suggest he can be an NHL starter - and a fair number of times where it's the complete opposite. 

"He makes the saves that we needed and makes the saves sometimes you didn't think he could make," forward Logan Couture said.

Per the NHL, Hill is the third goalie in Sharks history to win each of his first three appearances. The game against Winnipeg was a hard-fought effort to open the season and he followed it up with a 21-save shutout against Montreal on Tuesday. But his effort against Toronto proved he can be a battler, putting on one of the best performances in his career. Toronto's goals were well-earned - but Hill kept things out of reach against Toronto, especially in the first half of the game before things really started to pick up.

"Hillsy has made major key saves at key moments to help us win games," forward Timo Meier said. "The guys have been doing a great job getting in lanes and Hillsy has been cleaning up and making some nice saves for us."

That's all you can ask for, right? Sometimes, inexperience can be a huge boost for a young goaltender with so much to prove. Why was Hill so highly rated? No matter where he played, Hill seemed to outperform expectations and the team in front of him. Arizona was a perfect example, and while the Sharks look good now with a 4-0 record, it's still a team missing one of its better shooters for a quarter of the season in Evander Kane and without a ton of other star power. Erik Karlsson has seemingly found his game again, but as a whole, this isn't a team most expect to do a ton of damage.

Don't expect the Sharks to overwork Hill this season. Reimer will get plenty of action - maybe even 30 or so games - to help ease their young starter. Hill is on an inexpensive two-year deal, so there's a lot of room to grow. Hill hasn't achieved anything major yet, but in small sample size, he's been good.

But the real test has just begun.


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