I’m not one for sitting around and watching the second day
of the draft, since it’s A) often difficult to follow and B) typically falls on
a beautiful Saturday in late June, so I am admittedly late to weigh in on
anything draft related. Amongst the numerous picks that now give the illusion
of the Leafs having a stocked cupboard of prospects, was a beautiful trade
where Toronto picked up a 6’4, 23 year old puck moving defenseman for a half
eaten Power Bar and a stick of juicy fruit (actually
Brad Ross and a 4th round pick, but the value is similar).
Marincin comes to Toronto as a RFA, so along with Bernier, Kadri, and Panik, he’ll
be one of the few internal contracts the Leafs will need to immediately deal
with. And as The Leafs Nation’s resident Edmonton expert, I’m going to attempt
to assess what that cost might be.
Who is Martin
Marincin was a second round pick in 2010, he’s a 6’4
Slovakian with a left-handed shot. He’s 23 years old, and has played 85 games
in the NHL, 41 of which came last season. He moves the puck well, but has only
produced 11 points in the NHL, and his numbers in the AHL aren’t much higher
combination of excellent mobility and massive wingspan was extremely effective
in some areas of the game, most notably defending the defensive blue line
against opposition forwards. He wasn’t a flashy offensive player but he also
made a good first pass. There aren’t a lot of 6’4″ defencemen with mobility and passing ability available for the low
price of a fourth-round pick.
That’s not to say Marincin didn’t have weaknesses. There
were rough edges to his game, and the item that came up time and again in
Edmonton was his willingness to engage physically. Marincin is a positional
defender and at times lacked the necessary urgency to defend the front of the
net; he was not consistently physically competitive.
two most common defensive partners this past year were Fayne and Schultz,
though it wasn’t actually close as he only played 75 minutes 5v5 with Schultz
compared to 330 minutes with Fayne.
With Fayne, Marincin saw just 41.2% of his time in the offensive
zone compared to the defensive zone. Fayne didn’t have anywhere near as
difficult starts with any of his other playing partners. Together they saw
brutal starting positions and yet with the Slovak the duo allowed 2.17 goals
against per 60 minutes and without Marincin Fayne was averaging 3.01 goals
against per 60 minutes. Marincin without Fayne averaged just 1.78 goals against
per 60. As far as possession goes they struggled to create much (understandable
given their starting positions) and finished at 46.3% CF.
With Schultz, Marincin started in the offensive zone 57.9% of
the time compared to the defensive zone, which must have seemed like pure gravy
compared to his assignments with his main partner. Keeping in mind their time
together was brief, the duo of Schultz and Marincin allowed exactly 0 goals
against 5v5. That’s ridiculous enough on its own, however not only did they
keep the puck out of their own net, but they were producing a fantastically
high 69.14 Shot Attempts per 60 minutes while doing it.
Basically the picture that’s beginning to be painted here
for Marincin is that he’s a lot like Carl Gunnarsson. He’s a bigger, reliable
defender, with a good first pass, but isn’t going to be overly physical. He’ll
eat a ton of minutes, he can play in any situation, but on a good team he’s
still you’re 4th or 5th best defenseman, though he’s
certainly got the ability to be a solid second pairing guy for a long time in this
Playing on the Edmonton blueline has not been kind to Marincin’s numbers. He’s been a negative possession player in both his seasons, but considering that he’s been an AHL call-up, he plays a higher amount of tough minutes than you’d expect. In 5v5 situations, Marincin’s most common defensive partners have been Jeff Petry, and Mark Fayne, arguably Edmonton’s two best defensemen over the past two seasons. In Edmonton Marincin was averaging just under 19 minutes a night, and while he’s been on the negative side of CF%, his Corsi Rel has been positive both seasons (7.0 in 2013-14, 0.75 in 2014-15)
So what does he cost?
It’s a very interesting situation for Marincin. On one hand he appears to have the potential to be very good and the Leafs might need to pay for potential. On the other hand, he’s still somewhat inexperience in the NHL, and he couldn’t hold down a job on one of the worst defensive teams in the league for the last to seasons. At this point in Marincin’s career he’s likely more interested in a guaranteed one way contract more than chasing an actual pay day, and is looking for an opportunity to stay in the NHL. And as much I want to be a believer that Marincin is here to stay, I doubt there’s a real opportunity to go long term with him, and it’s much more likely that he’ll sign a deal to that will see him come up as a RFA one more time in his career.
Some of the most recent comparables that make the most sense for Marincin are probably other players on the Leafs. Erixon and Brennan were each bought back on affordable $600k-$675k per year deals to give them a chance to prove their value, and last season the Leafs did a similar two year deal with Peter Holland for $775k per year. A case could be made that Marincin is better than these players, but I still don’t think we’d see a deal that exceeds $925k per season, although it will likely be a one way deal.
While it is still ideal to get one more RFA contract out of Marincin, if it’s impossible to get him at a bargain basement price, an example of a similar deal might be the 3 year deal that Ian Cole just signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Cole is older (26), and has shown he can stay in the NHL (74 games this season), so the $2.1M per season cap hit is likely higher than required for Marincin, but even at that price it’s a cap friendly contract if you believe you can rely on Marincin to play around 20 minutes a night. Odds are the deal will be more similar to Erixon’s or Holland’s than to Cole’s, but this is seemingly the range the Leafs will be dealing with on their newly acquired young defender.