The New York Islanders enter the offseason with a number of players still needing contracts. One of them is fourth liner, Matt Martin who they absolutely have to keep.
In 2015-16, the New York Islanders possessed the best fourth line in all of hockey. They could out-hit and out-hustle most lines in the league. Their style of play fit perfectly in the system that coach Jack Capuano wanted to push. But with Matt Martin potentially on the way out, this could all change.
Going into the 2016-17 Matt Martin is an unrestricted free agent. He’s coming off a four-year $4 million deal and a career year in terms of points with 19. The notion is that Martin will be due for a pay raise.
But how much will it cost the Islanders to keep their fourth line together. Not only do they have to worry about Matt Martin, but Casey Cizikas is also up for renewal. Overpaying for one might mean you can’t keep the other.
While trying to undercut might have the same effect. So what do you do as GM with the fourth line, and specifically Matt Martin?
Matt Martin is Due A Raise
You’re just not going to find a better player to fill that fourth line checking role. The only downside to Martin’s role is the inevitable penalties that ensue. Over the same period, Martin ranks 8th in the number of penalty minutes served.
Martin has consistent production over the years. You can count on some combination of 14 points over the course of the year from the 27-year-old.
What do you pay him? Generally, it’s difficult to find comparatives for players, but luckily there’s one already on the team in Cal Clutterbuck.
The Clutterbuck Template
Clutterbuck has been terrorizing opposition players for years. Clutterbuck hits, hits often and hits clean. Here’s a top ten of Clutterbuck over his 9-year NHL career.
Clutterbuck also has the ability to add some points. He had 15 goals and eight assists in 2015-16. The comparatives are fairly straight forward. They both play the same type of game and both excel at it. So, what’s the damage with Martin if Clutterbuck is the basis of comparison?
Clutterbuck signed a four-year $11 million deal with the Islanders, or a $2.75 million cap hit up to the 2016-17 season. Don’t think that the same type of deal couldn’t apply to Martin.
The deal would be exactly the type of deal Martin would get in the open market and is very cap friendly. It’s not to say he will get the exact same deal as Clutterbuck, but a $2 to $2.5 million contract is very reasonable.
More importantly, it leaves plenty of space to allow Cizikas to sign what is likely going to be a three-year bridge deal at about $1.5 million per year.