Player evaluation: Martinez - LA Kings Insider

Juan Ocampo/NHLI

ALEC MARTINEZ
This season: 82 games, 9 goals, 30 assists, 39 points, 24 penalty minutes, -17 rating, -0.5% CF%Rel, 21:38 time on ice

The good: Looking at the broader picture for a moment and not focusing squarely on an up-and-down year, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who developed as well under Darryl Sutter as Alec Martinez, who over the last five seasons progressed into an all-situational workhorse in which his quick decision-making and proficiency in transition grew alongside a game that rewarded those capable of playing with pace and tempo. It’s funny to think of Martinez as a healthy scratch in 2012-13 when only four seasons later Sutter spoke so highly of him here, here, here and here (where he didn’t appear to be too interested in answering questions), and even when he was asked about some of his challenges in the second half of the season, still showed confidence that Martinez would break out of a schneid. It was a trying season for Martinez, one separated by a pair of extremes. Apart from accounting for only two points in February as the collective Jake Muzzin-Martinez performance was simply off, he was actually very consistent and totaled seven points in October, November and December, six points in January and eight points in March. Martinez’s presence puts points in the standings, as his skill set has been a significant factor in the team’s 24-7 record in games decided in overtime since the league’s shift to three-on-three. He was excellent on special teams in 2016-17, accounting for 13 assists and 15 points on the power play and another two goals and five points in three-on-three overtime. In four-on-five play, he posted the lowest GA60 of any team defenseman who logged more than 35 minutes of shorthanded time. His 182:53 of total shorthanded time – which averaged out to 2:13 minutes per game – trailed only Drew Doughty’s 210:43 and 2:34. Interestingly, Martinez’s success in three-on-three overtime is not built on any sort of possession or chance advantage. Though the Kings have scored 10 goals and ceded five when Martinez has been on the ice in three-on-three play, he’s the only skater with a minimum of 10 overtime minutes with a negative (42 CF/43 CA) raw Corsi rating. There’s not a ton of meaning behind it, but it does represent that he’s a defenseman with a relatively high shooting percentage who is capable of making plays with other top players on the ice, and that seems to align with the front office’s clearly stated desire to make its possession advantage bear more fruit. “He’s probably our best defenseman in recognizing when he can get into the rush,” Sutter observed in November. “He’s one of the better defensemen in the league, actually, when you look at that, in terms of not just being there, [but] in terms of creating something or getting a shot or creating a quality chance.” His overall possession rates improved from the year prior, but Martinez also saw a higher percentage of offensive zone starts and a lower percentage of defensive zone starts compared to 2015-16. Without his former defensive partner Matt Greene on the roster, Martinez, who turns 30 in two weeks, becomes the senior member of a young defense and is among those who have taken a firmer grip on the club’s leadership reins. “He’s a really good guy,” Sutter said in December. “Marty’s a mature guy. When you talk to him, you don’t have to talk about hockey. He’s very insightful and knows what’s going on in the world.” Martinez appeared in all 82 games for the first time in his career and also set a career-high 21:38 average time on ice while shaving 16 total penalty minutes off the previous season’s career-high 40 PIM.

The bad: Goals were scored on the Kings while Martinez was on the ice. This inflation of offense against the second defensive pairing was probably related more to on-ice struggles experienced by Muzzin than Martinez, but it was something the team had a hard time escaping from in the second half of the season, and especially during a personal 14-game, minus-10 stretch in February. 3.36 five-on-five goals were allowed for every 60 minutes Muzzin and Martinez were on the ice together; when Martinez was on the ice without Muzzin, the team ceded only 1.78 GA60. But Martinez played more than three times as many minutes alongside Muzzin than any other defenseman because of limited options at the club’s disposal as younger defensemen were incorporated onto the blue line. For someone who takes immense pride in his own game and for being a good teammate, it did appear to wear on Martinez late in the year as Los Angeles was unable to hook on to a playoff berth. “Marty, he relies on his skating and being really mentally sharp,” Darryl Sutter said in February, “and I think he’s made a lot of mistakes that are mental mistakes, and that’s where he has to work with himself and because he is a bright guy and he is a hockey smart guy and all those things, and he’s a caring guy and he’s a good teammate, so when you’re making mental mistakes, that means you’re not quite going through your preparation properly, and I trust that he can do that and will do that.” For all the talk about Martinez’s ability to handle all situations well, he logged only three first assists (and seven assists total) during five-on-five play, and his 14 total points at 5×5 did not represent any real departure from the 13, 14 and 13 he tallied in the three seasons prior.

Francois Lacasse/NHLI

Going forward: You are familiar with this part from reading Martinez Evaluations of Yore. He was thrust into a wider, unexpected role upon Slava Voynov’s departure, and while there have been growing pains, he has essentially graduated into a second pairing and is capable of playing in all situations. The Kings haven’t entirely been able to replace Voynov’s minutes, but Martinez has clearly made strides in maximizing his diverse skill set as a player, and the past two seasons are representations of the gains he made under a coach who used to be really tough on him. Don’t pay attention to his uncharacteristic minus-17 rating, a flawed metric that represents little more than the bottom dropping out on him and Muzzin during the depths of a challenging campaign. There hasn’t been any real thick smoke to trade scuttlebutt surrounding Martinez, who carries a $4-million cap hit for another four years. But as a player with term who plays at a position of some depth during a time the team is looking to acquire scoring, there will be inevitable speculation, and probably some calls, on an excellent skater well suited to play in a brisker, more up-tempo NHL. That doesn’t mean that he’s going anywhere. With his ability to skate, make plays and distribute the puck in transition and in the offensive zone, especially on the power play, the sleek-skating, heavy-shooting Martinez is an important asset for a Los Angeles back end that also relies on the added gravity and respect he carries when in a room with his peers. Having turned 30, is a 35-to-40-point season while averaging 21-to-22 minutes the limit of what should be expected? Or should there be a prolonged peak to the bell curve of a player who made significant strides in his late-20’s? He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp after undergoing a “minor medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his groin.”

Martinez evaluations: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Player evaluations: ANDREOFF | BROWN | CARTER | CLIFFORD | DOUGHTY | DOWD | FORBORT | GABORIK | GRAVEL | KOPITAR | LEWIS | MARTINEZ | MCNABB | MUZZIN | NOLAN | PEARSON | SHORE | TOFFOLI | BISHOP/BUDAJ/CAMPBELL/QUICK/ZATKOFF | THE OTHERS

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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