The New York Islanders brought back Matt Martin, so there’s a potential return of the best fourth line in hockey coming in 2018-2019.
Just this week, Lou Lamoriello decided to trade for Matt Martin. He gave up Eamon McAdam, a low-end goalie prospect, in order to bring back the fan-favorite.
One of the interesting things about this move is the Islanders already have Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Ross Johnston, Tanner Fritz and Leo Komarov who could play on the fourth line before they already brought back Martin.
There’s a clear overload at the position so why would the Islanders add another piece? It’s actually a very simple answer: Chemistry.
When the Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck line took the ice from 2014-2016 they were without question the most effective fourth line in the league. Not only did they hit people (a combined 869 hits in 2015) they were also effective scoring wise.
Let’s take a look at their last year together, the 2015-2016 season. That year Matt Martin had career highs in points and goals with 19 points and 10 goals. He wasn’t the only one who saw success.
Cal Clutterbuck netted 15 goals that year, five of which were game-winners while putting up 23 points. The center of that unit, Casey Cizikas saw a career high in points with 29 (8 goals, 21 assists).
While Martin’s 19 points isn’t a ton, it’s still an effective number for someone who hits as much as he does. Clutterbuck’s 15 goals for a fourth liner is fantastic depth scoring and nearly 30 points from the center of the line Cizikas is unreal.
Ever since Martin departed in free agency the effectiveness of the line has decreased dramatically. Cizikas and Clutterbuck’s numbers have dropped and the game-changing momentum that line once had is far gone.
I don’t hate trying to rekindle that magic at all. Yes, a fourth line that makes a combined $9.25 million isn’t ideal but if it means that they go back to being best in the league it might be worth it. Remember, the Islanders bottom six has been downright awful the last few years.
If Lou is able to get the penalty kill and bottom two lines fixed I’d be happy with that being a start. The roster we’re looking at right now is likely not even close to the one we’ll see in October. I expect there to be a trade, and I’m sure there won’t be nine fourth liners on the opening night roster like everyone seems so afraid of at the moment.
Just because the Islanders still have holes, doesn’t mean we can poke fun at the other improvements to the roster he’s done so far. Be patient, there will be a solution for the second line and defense coming shortly.