It's not easy to watch a player who's been so influential to a franchise struggle in the twilight of their career. A member of the NY Islanders for 13 of his 15 NHL seasons, Matt Martin, 34, has been an instrumental part of the organization's "Identity Line" alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas.
In the final year of his contract with the Isles, Martin's time on ice has been significantly reduced this season. Averaging 10:53 a game for his career, Martin has only averaged under ten minutes in two seasons - both in his two years with the Toronto Maple Leafs (8:53 in 2016-17 and 7:59 in 2017-18). Through the Isles' 11 games this season, Martin is averaging just 8:39 a night, topping the ten-minute mark just twice.
Though the Isles spent plenty of time on the power play or short handed in last night's matchup with the Minnesota Wild, situations Martin does not play in, he set a season low in ice time, logging just 5:29.
With his reduced minutes, the question begins to be raised of whether Martin should even be suited up if he's spending nearly the entire game stapled to the bench.
Martin has always been known for his bone-crushing hits throughout his career, sitting second on the all-time list with 3,728, trailing only Clutterbuck (3,777). In the little ice he saw last night, Martin failed to register a hit in his ten shifts.
Lane Lambert and the Isles can surely spread out the playing time of the bottom six by inserting Hudson Fasching on the fourth line and slotting either Oliver Wahlstrom or Julien Gauthier on the third line.
Sending a player who's been a staple in the lineup for the better part of the decade can be a difficult decision to make for a second year head coach, but with his lack of playing time, it may be best for the Isles to look elsewhere to fill in those minutes.