The New York Islanders drafted Matt Martin in the 5th round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, Matt Martin has been the staple/identity of Islanders’ hockey. Hard-hitting, physical forechecking, and a lot of chirping. Martin has grown as a player since being drafted. He went from a head-hunting enforcer to a “get in front of the net” grinder. Not only has this change impacted the Islanders positively, but also added years to his career.
Young Matt Martin played a lot like Ross Johnston does. Both of them are big bodies who stuck up for their best players. For Martin, it was John Tavares, for Johnston, it is Mat Barzal. Don’t get me wrong, Martin is still an enforcer, but he’s an offensive enforcer.
Barry Trotz has made Martin an offensive threat for the first time in his whole career. Matt Martin currently has four playoff goals, and all of them were “clutch” goals. Having a 4th liner who can score along with creating opportunities through the forecheck is huge. He can still deliver the big hits too, but not as frequent. My only criticism is that he takes bad penalties at bad times. Too many stick infractions in the closing minutes of the third. Other than that, Martin is a great player.
Sadly, Matt Martin’s contract is over with the Islanders after the season ends. Since the Islanders have to sign Mat Barzal, Devon Toews, and Ryan Pulock, the chance that Martin gets resigned is very slim. I would keep Martin over Johnston, though.
There’s no reason to break up that 4th line chemistry just because there’s a younger version of young Matt Martin. Martin should command $2-$2.5 million in free agency, close to Johnston’s contract. I’m not saying get rid of Johnston for Martin, but if that’s how it has to happen, that’s how it must happen. The 4th line is crucial to the Islanders’ success, it’s the entire identity of who the Islanders are. The Islanders must keep Martin somehow.