NY Islanders 2023-24 Report Card: If This is the End of the Road for Matt Martin, He Will Be Missed on Long Island

Matt Martin has been one of the most popular NY Islanders of the last few decades.
Matt Martin has been one of the most popular NY Islanders of the last few decades. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Growing up, my family had a red Toyota Land Cruiser that was perhaps the most dependable car on Earth. Whether the car was in New York City or heading to the beach, it got the job done. However, as the years passed, I saw the impact all the mileage on the car had on its effectiveness. Eventually, after years of top notch performance, the car no longer started, and it was sold off for parts.

*Read our previously Published player report cards: Sebastian Aho | Mat Barzal | Samuel Bolduc | Casey Cizikas | Cal Clutterbuck | Noah Dobson | Pierre Engvall | Hudson Fasching | Simon Holmstrom | Bo Horvat | Anders Lee | Kyle MacLean

NY Islanders 2023-24 Report Card: Matt Martin

I cannot help but see the parallels between that car and Matt Martin. For years, Martin was perhaps the most dependable member of the NY Islanders' roster. The organization and the fans all knew exactly what they would get from Martin (along with his linemates Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck) every single night for every single season. "The Best Fourth Line in Hockey," as they were dubbed, became the heart and soul of the Isles' franchise as the team reached heights they had not reached in almost forty years.

But every car breaks down eventually, and in recent years, the mileage has had an obvious effect on Martin. He has needed more downtime during the season, whether due to fatigue or injury, that he did not require in his prime years. While Martin will still drop the gloves on occasion, his days as a feared, tier-one heavyweight are behind him. And while Martin still has spurts of strong forechecking, he was not as able to consistently provide that this season.

Martin, who turned 35 on May 8, had only 4 goals and 8 points this season in 57 games, playing only 9:18 per game. There were times during games when depending on game flow, Martin would not see as much ice time. Seeing his ice time managed in such a manner had to wound Martin's pride, but if it did, he did not show it, continuing to show up every day and put the work in. In doing this, Martin proved his mettle as a leader of this team, which can always have a positive impact regardless of on-ice ability.

It feels as if this is the end of the line for Martin and the Islanders, but with Lou Lamoriello running the show, nobody can know for certain. There has been an unusual amount of loyalty with regard to this roster, so it would be foolish to completely rule out a return next season, even in more of a part-time role.

If not, the 2023-24 season was a fitting end for Matt Martin with the Islanders. He got into one final playoff series, played in 57 regular season games, and passed the fourth line torch to a new young center in Kyle MacLean. There is surely a coaching, development, or front office position with the Islanders in Martin's future if he chooses to go that route. Whether or not Martin takes a job with the team in the future, I am sure he will be a familiar face at UBS Arena in future seasons.

Final Grade: C-

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