Ever since he broke into the league back in the 2009-10 season, Matt Martin has been a fan favorite, especially with the female assemblage of Islanders fans. I will be the first to admit that I am a huge fan of Martin and the way he carries himself both on and off the ice. He’s a great guy and can be very fun to watch play because of the fact he simply hits everything that moves. Martin played a huge role on the 4th line that was instrumental in getting the Islanders to the playoffs two seasons ago, but last season he, along with most of the Islanders, simply didn’t show up to play.
It’s no secret that this offsesaon the Islanders have added a tremendous amount of depth to their offense. The Isles currently have 16 forwards competing for 12 roster spots. Come training camp, no spot will be guaranteed and every position must be earned. This puts Martin in a very tough spot come camp, as he will not have that spot on the 4th line handed to him like he has in past years. There’s no doubt Martin will need to be ready to go come camp, or else he will be out of a job. But even if Martin brings his “A game” is there a spot for him?
To me, the answer to that question is no. There are many reasons for that and first and foremost is the presence of Cal Clutterbuck. Last year when the Isles acquired Clutterbuck in a trade with the Minnesota Wild, I thought that would spell the end of Matt Martin’s days on Long Island. Let’s face it, Clutterbuck plays the same game that Martin does with the only difference being he plays it ten times more effectively. Cal is great on the penalty kill, can score, is a sneaky good skater and can hit just like Martin can. Now I understand that Martin breaks the single season hit record basically every year, but with Clutterbuck who is consistently in the top five in hits on your team, why exactly do you need Martin?
With their added scoring depth, the Islanders should be looking to create a more offensively minded fourth line, and that should not include Matt Martin. The presence of a guy like Cory Conacher will put a ton of pressure on Martin to step his game up offensively. The Isles should be looking to get more offense and possession time out of their bottom line, something which they got none of a year ago. A fourth line of Conacher, Casey Cizikas and Clutterbuck is a whole lot better than one that features Martin and Colin Mcdonald, isn’t it?
When you take a look at advanced statistics, Matt Martin certainly doesn’t stand out in a good way. Martin and the entire Isles fourth line was a possession nightmare a season ago. It seemed as if anytime they were on the ice, they were trapped in their own zone for a good 25 seconds. Throughout the playoffs, the Kings showed that in order to be a great team, you need to have four lines that can score, and the Islanders fourth line couldn’t do that last season. Times are changing, the game evolves and players lose their importance, and that is exactly what is happening to Matt Martin.
Does Matt Martin still have a place in the NHL? Yes. But he does not have a role in the New York Islanders starting lineup as their roster is currently constructed. GM Garth Snow should consider trading him as part of a package for a defenseman or maybe even by himself for a late round draft pick. Teams that don’t have a player like Martin would certainly be interested, but not a team that has a player just like him on their roster. It’s time to move past the good looks and charisma and see that Matt Martin is the most expendable player on the Islanders roster and shouldn’t be in the starting lineup come opening night.