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For Adin Hill, What a Difference a Team Makes



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

For Adin Hill, what a difference a team makes.

Two summers ago, the San Jose Sharks, moving on from the Martin Jones era, sent a 2022 second-round pick and goaltending prospect Josef Korenar to the Arizona Coyotes for then 25-year-old Hill and a 2022 seventh-round pick.

San Jose’s heir apparent, however, struggled with injuries and consistency, posting a 10-11-1 record with a .906 Save %. In contrast, veteran battery mate James Reimer outdueled Hill with a 19-17-10 record and a .911 Save %.

By last Trade Deadline, it seemed like Hill’s days in teal were numbered, when the Sharks acquired Kaapo Kahkonen. And indeed, the San Jose cut their losses last summer by dealing Hill to the Vegas Golden Knights for a 2024 fourth-round pick.

But now, Hill has led the Golden Knights to the Western Conference Finals, putting up 39 saves to eliminate the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 in Game Six.

Predictably, behind a better team, Hill put up better numbers.

In the regular season, the 6-foot-6 netminder enjoyed a 16-7-1 record with a .915 Save%. And since starter Laurent Brossoit went down in Game Three of Golden Knights-Oilers, Hill has peeled off three victories and a sparkling .934 Save %.

“I’ve always had the confidence in my game. It’s been an interesting ride in pro hockey for me, kind of up, down, all over the place,” Hill said after his Game Six triumph. “Right now, I feel like I’m playing good. It’s just that confidence when you’re on a good team. I think we might have the best D-core in the league when you look up and down our D group.”

I think the lesson here for the San Jose Sharks, or at least those who wrote off Hill after his struggles last season?

Don’t be so quick to judge a goalie without proper consideration of the environment around him.

“For what it’s worth, just because Hill struggled last season, it doesn’t mean that he can’t bounce back this year. While I have spoken with a few sources who were surprised that the Sharks parted with a second-rounder for Hill in the first place, he’s clearly a talented keeper of some value. Otherwise, San Jose and Vegas both would not have come knocking for his services,” I wrote last summer. “There is even an argument that the Sharks should’ve traded the older, more established Reimer over the younger Hill. In theory, you get a higher draft pick for Reimer – maybe a third – and Hill stays healthy and fulfills his upside in teal.”

Why Hill Trade Was Win-Win for Sharks, Golden Knights

Sure, Hill couldn’t rise above last year’s mediocre Sharks, and honestly, he likely wouldn’t have fared much better with this season’s cellar-dwellers.

But put him or any talented goalie behind the Pacific Division winners?

When you’re on a good team, you only have to be great sometimes for your team to win. On the San Jose Sharks, Hill had to be great all the time for them to win.

That’s a lot of pressure.

The same goes now for San Jose incumbents Kahkonen and pending UFA Reimer. It’s easy to write off both after their poor performances and statistical campaigns.

But as Hill is showing now, a new lease on life may not be that far away.

Adin Hill, Painter?


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