The New York Islanders went out and traded for Matt Martin this offseason, but they still have an extremely crowded bottom six. Just how much playing time will Matt Martin get?
The bottom six for the New York Islanders still looks like a mystery as we approach the final month of the summer. Credit to Lou Lamoriello, he went out and addressed one of the Islanders weaker points of the roster, but it’s clearly an overcrowded group as we sit right now.
One of the additions was trading for Matt Martin, a player that both Islanders fans and Lou Lamoriello are familiar with. Martin was a staple to the Islanders fourth line, once donned “the best fourth line in hockey” before signing a four-year deal with the Maple Leafs.
You would think that trading for a fourth liner that is due $2.5 million per year over the next two years would mean that he’s guaranteed to play but with Martin that really isn’t the case.
If today was opening day, the lineup would likely look something like this:
Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle
Lee – Kovar – Bailey
Ladd – Filppula – Nelson
Komarov – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
As you can see, Martin’s name doesn’t appear in this lineup. That’s because with Komarov’s four-year deal he gets the edge over Martin and of course, Cizikas and Clutter with their contracts have to get the playing time as well.
Both Martin and Ross Johnston, who are very similar players, to begin with, are most likely to be healthy scratches more often than not. With Johnston as a potential candidate for the AHL.
I think Martin will play, but not nearly as often as he did in the past. From 2011-2017, six years in a row, he played in 78 or more games. For a fourth liner who’s career high in points is 19 that’s pretty impressive.
To be fair though, Martin is one of the more effective fourth-line enforcers in the league. Last year, only appearing in 50 games, was the lowest of his career besides his five-game stint in 2009-2010.
Unless there’s a trade, it’s hard to see Martin increase those number of games. I think he’ll get some playing time but only as a fill-in guy, unless of course there’s a trade or the roster somehow changes before the season starts.
For now, I think I have to take the under. If I had to put a number on it, I think I’ll go with 36 games, serving a similar role to what Ross Johnston did with the Isles last year. 2018-2019 is looking like it’s going to be an odd year of evaluation, so perhaps his playing time changes in 2019-2020, but for now he’s looking like a $2.5 million healthy scratch.