As the NHL trade deadline approaches, it’s only natural to begin hearing players’ names linked to certain teams. In the past few days, rumors of the New York Islanders trading for forward Matt Martin have arisen.
The last New York Islanders fans heard of Matt Martin, they were waving him goodbye as he packed his bags for Toronto, where he would be a Maple Leaf at the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. Martin was part of the group of fan favorites that signed elsewhere after 2016, along with Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.
While Martin was never a strong offensive producer, he had certainly won fans’ hearts with his physical play and personality. Many were sad to see him go but his style of play and desired salary didn’t fit with the plan for the Islanders of the future.
Now, still resting as a bubble team amid a disastrous metropolitan division, rumors have begun to circulate about the goon returning to New York. While the sentiment started from fans, both
have since acknowledged the idea.
The Islanders’ bottom six has plagued them throughout the entire season. Relying heavily on their first two lines to produce, they have been crippled by both the minimal points coming from lines three and four and their lack of defensive control. Bringing Matt Martin back could theoretically force Doug Weight to reshape these dormant lines.
By adding him to the team’s lineup once again, the Islanders would be able to recreate the chemistry of Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin, a line widely considered to have been one of the best fourth lines in hockey. These three players have proven that they could be successful together and could allow for an aggressive, shut down line.
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Martin’s presence would also negate the need for either Alan Quine or Jason Chimera. While Martin is still not an offensive powerhouse with only 11 points total this season, he has still produced as much or more than Quine or Chimera, with three and 11 points respectively.
Should the trade for Martin be followed by a move of recalling rookie Josh Ho-Sang from the AHL, the bottom two lines would be dramatically improved. By eliminating Quine and Chimera, the forward lineup would be rid of also certain liabilities.
The first and second lines would remain as they are, the third line would have Brock Nelson centering Andrew Ladd and Josh Ho-Sang while reuniting Martin, Clutterbuck, and Cizikas on the fourth. This showing would certainly be better than trotting out the same unsuccessful forwards night after night.
A Step Backward
While Martin’s return could lead to the improvement of the New York Islanders bottom six, it may also signify a step backward for the organization as a whole. It has been obvious that what this team truly lacks is defense and making a move for a fourth line goon certainly seems like a step in the wrong direction.
A trade like this wouldn’t be so offensive to fans clamoring for managerial intervention if it was subsequently followed by a push for an asset that could majorly improve the team’s defensive core. However, faith in Garth Snow seems to be at an all-time low. Two moves at the deadline is almost wishful thinking.
Ultimately, a trade for Matt Martin wouldn’t hurt the Islanders but it could certainly crush the moral of an eager fan base. In a time for trading draft picks and assets in order to salvage what once was a season that held great promise, it would be frustrating to simply bring back a physical fan favorite while ignoring the team’s other gaping holes.