Editorials

Matt Martin: 2020 New York Islanders Grades So Far

Matt Martin is a fan favorite. But his season can be cause for a heated debate among Islander fans. While he was playing in the role one would expect of him, concerns have to be asked if younger, cheaper options can provide what Martin does. Martin’s season did not go as planned, as he faced injuries and was scratched by head coach Barry Trotz. Considering his role, however, could this be overlooked when taking into account the role Martin plays on a defensive-minded Islanders team.

The Good

Matt Martin will never be called upon to become a 20 goal-scorer, or even a 10 goal-scorer. Rather, his talents are found when discussing the best hitters in the game. Matt Martin adds an old school style of play to a game morphing into a quicker, looser style of play.

On most teams, Martin’s style of play may not seem beneficial, but he fits right in with the Islanders. Despite only playing 55 games this season, Martin has 242 hits, an astounding number considering the low ice time and few games he played.

The level of punishment he can dish out on any given night helps the Islanders achieve the rugged style they execute. While his goal totals are not staggering, of his five goals on the season, two of them are game-winners.

This interesting fact can help one paint the picture of Martin showing up late in games when called upon. Whether it is his aggressive style of play, or his surprisingly clutch goal-scoring, Matt Martin has shown to be a formidable fourth line option. 

The Bad

Matt Martin’s lack of offense can be a cause for concern, but like previously stated, the offense was never a talent he prided himself on. The negatives that can be associated with Matt Martin can be shown when looking at his cap-hit.

While this is the last year of his four-year, $10 million contract, one has to ask whether the Islanders will find any value in re-signing Martin. While one would assume they will re-sign him, if his asking price is comparable to his current contract, the Islanders may stray away and look towards some younger options like Ross Johnston.

While there wasn’t anything inherently bad about Martin’s season, his lack of offensive production, dated style of play, and potential cheaper options make him a questionable player looking forward. 

The Expectations

Coming into this season, no one placed high expectations on Matt Martin. The most anyone asked for was for him to chip in occasionally on offense and lay the body without getting into penalty trouble.

It is fair to say Matt Martin accomplished these expectations. Matt Martin did not underperform, but he did not over-perform either. He played as expected and one can’t fault him for that. 

The Moment of the Season

Matt Martin’s best play came on Dec. 29 when the Islanders visited the Minnesota Wild. In this game, Martin buried a cross-crease pass from a falling Leo Komarov, putting the Islanders up two to one in the third period. This goal was the game-winner and gave the Islanders a valuable two points.

While this may not have been the flashiest play, it is the smart play of driving to the net that allowed Martin to help his team edge out a win against a Wild team playing in their barn. 

The Verdict

Matt Martin did what was asked of him this season. He threw hits, scored a few goals, and did not complain when he was scratched when Barry Trotz seemed fit. Being a fantastic locker room also helps, as he helps keep the team together in tough times. While he did not out-perform his expectations, Martin played his role, and that is all you can ask of a fourth-liner

Grade: 86/B

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