Matt Martin, objectively speaking, is not a great hockey player. He’s not even that good. But, like most Islanders fans, I absolutely love him. He delivers something that’s just not reflected in the scoresheet.
Let’s start with the stats. Martin has never scored more than 10 goals or 20 points in a season. He’s only twice in his career finished with a +/- rating better than 0, and his career average CF% is 45.6%.
But we all know that’s not the whole story. Martin is an identity kind of guy. He plays on the identity line, which, despite their objectively not-that-good stats, frequently starts games for the Barry Trotz Islanders. And he competes hard, night in and night out, every shift.
Martin is also a terrifying guy to play against. He led the league in hits for five years in a row, and still (at age 32) finished 8th last season. When he is on the ice, the other team just gets tired.
Anybody who doesn’t watch the Islanders would say that Martin is a mediocre 4th liner. Anyone who does knows that he brings something undefinable to the rink every single night.
At age 32, it wouldn’t be surprising for a physical player like Martin to slow down a bit. That playstyle is hard to sustain into the mid-30s, and I suspect we’re witnessing the end of the identity line pretty soon (more on that when I discuss right wings). But for this year, I’m still glad Matt Martin is an Islander.