Player evaluation: Martinez
This season: 27 games played, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, 10 penalty minutes, minus-2 rating
The good: Including playoff games, the Kings were 20-11-3 with Martinez in the lineup. Their 6-1 playoff record wasn’t a fluke, as he appeared to give the team a boost in puck advancing and ability to generate offense through his activation from the blue line. He also has a sense of humor (if not Mexican heritage). Though he didn’t appear in a regular season game after Robyn Regehr’s arrival, he was effective in his return to the lineup in the playoffs and in just his second game during a one-month span, he jumped up into the play to earn an attractive assist on this momentum-shifting goal:
The bad: Despite the minutes and opportunities that opened up due to injuries on the back end, Martinez was not fully able to take advantage. His shots on goal per game, points per game and shooting percentage all fell despite a career high average ice time of 16:01. For a defenseman who generates offense and moves the puck so well, he finished with a total of seven points (1-6=7) in 34 regular season and playoff games, which appears low given his skill set. Darryl Sutter was often more inclined to use Keaton Ellerby when both were healthy, and didn’t exactly offer the strongest backing of Martinez throughout the season.
Said Sutter on March 7:
He’s struggled. Quite honestly, when he got hurt, the team was, quite honest, not playing as well as they should have and he…has to be a bigger part of the solution if he wants to stay in the lineup. I think that he’s a young player that hasn‘t played much in this league, and my job is to teach them and make sure they’re prepared to compete, but if they don’t learn and they don’t compete, then they’re going to have trouble with me in terms of how much they play and if they play. And that’s the truth.
Four days later, Martinez was on the wrong end of a Mikael Backlund highlight:
Going forward: Martinez was signed to a two-year, 2.2 million dollar contract earlier this month, and there are rational expectations that he can get back on track towards the natural progression that appeared evident between 2010 and 2012. It’s also likely that he was more useful than the numbers he posted last season, and for a team that has been among the league’s best possession teams over the last two years, Martinez’s passing and his ability to advance the puck out of his own zone is certainly in concert with the team’s efforts. Having turned 26 today, he remains young and certainly capable of improvement. There’s also the possibility that he could be traded given the team’s logjam on defense. Jake Muzzin took advantage of the opportunity presented him last season and appears to be the frontrunner to earn minutes in a potential pairing with Matt Greene; that leaves Martinez, Keaton Ellerby and Jeff Schultz in a bit of a holding pattern until Willie Mitchell’s status is more clearly understood. There’s still plenty to like about the makeup and composure of the intelligent defenseman who skates well and can provide quality minutes on the power play. There’s plenty of value and some upside in Martinez’s game, even if it wasn’t fully realized in 2012-13.