Player evaluation: Martinez
This season: 51 games, 6 goals, 6 assists, minus-1 rating.
The good: It’s not easy playing in the shadow of a top defenseman such as Drew Doughty. Even rookie Slava Voynov got more deadlines than Martinez, because of his solid first season. Don’t sell Martinez short, though. In a third defensive pairing, with Matt Greene, Martinez is making excellent progress for a defenseman who doesn’t turn 25 until this month. Martinez is a good puck-mover and passer and his ability to get point shots through from the blue line make him a valuable power-play contributor. Martinez scored a big goal in Game 2 against New Jersey, when he read the play well, jumped up and poked in a loose puck.
The bad: Martinez missed 31 games this season, in part because of a minor injury and in part because, briefly, he was made a healthy scratch in favor of Slava Voynov. The question with Martinez might be, where is his ceiling? For the past two seasons, the Kings have asked him to play roughly 15 minutes per game, and he has handled that well. If injury, or anything else, required Martinez to step into a higher-profile role, would he be able to handle it? The Kings would also be thrilled if Martinez could make more of an impact on the power play. He had only three power-play goals, and he’s capable of more than that.
Going forward: There’s a feeling that Martinez has strong long-term value. That’s not to say that he’s underachieving now, because he’s not. He’s a player with a strong skill set who is simply being asked to fill a relatively small role right now, as a third-pair defenseman and sometimes contributor on the power play. Martinez is just about to turn 25 and still has plenty of room to grow. He’s not the strongest, most-physical of defensemen, but he’s not asked to fill that role. If he can move the puck well, make good decisions with it and create some offense from the blue line, he will thrive. By all accounts, he’s a keeper.