Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Leafs’ signing of Matt Martin this past offseason has been a point of contention for this fanbase since it happened, and likely will be for the entire four years he’s in Toronto. With that said, as it stands right now, one side of that debate is clearly losing because even Martin’s biggest supporters really can’t point to anything tangible he’s brought to this team so far. And for even his harshest critics it’s probably unlikely they saw his contributions being this minuscule.
I should stop here for a second and point out Martin is clearly a step up on the fourth liners this team used to employ in the Burke/Nonis days. No one is going to argue that. He’s a decent skater, can cycle somewhat, and the puck isn’t like a total grenade when it hits his tape. A staged fighter like Colton Orr he is not, and we can take some peace of mind from that.
But still, to this point in the season Martin really hasn’t shown to be anything beyond sub-replacement-level, and it isn’t like he’s playing for peanuts.
After notching ten goals and 19 points last season with the Islanders, I think some Leafs fans (myself included) figured Martin was at least decent enough to chip in a little offence from the fourth line, even if it wasn’t going to be 2.5-million dollars worth. To this point he has one assist in 17 games in blue and white. That’s it. He’s on pace for a whopping five points over 82 games.
Now, do I think Martin is ‘five-points-per-season’ bad? Probably not. I do believe he might be ten-points-per-season bad, though. And what’s even funnier is he isn’t even being sunk by bad luck, as his PDO (or on-ice sv% + sh%) is currently 100.5. This isn’t Colby Armstrong all over again, it’s actually looking to be worse.
For a guy on a long term contract that brings him into his thirties, Martin’s going to represent a good amount of egg on management’s face if this is all he is. It was a poor signing in the summer, and it’s looking like an even poorer one now that the games are under way. And that 2.5-million would come in handy if guys like Shattenkirk and Burns hit the market next summer.
And look, none of this is to question anything about Martin’s character or personality. His ripping of Drew Miller for his silver fox look was enough for me to like the guy. He’s supposedly a major worker, hits the gym, passes off good habits to the rookies, and I have no reason to doubt any of that is true.
But one point in seventeen games is one point in seventeen games, and it isn’t like he can move the needle otherwise. Martin hasn’t been good by shot-attempt metrics, posting a score-adjusted -3.19% CorsiRel at even strength, which is the worst of any forward on the team with 10+ games played not named Ben Smith. Martin also doesn’t get much in way of penalty-killing time either, with just 20 minutes played short-handed so far this season.
He isn’t driving play, he isn’t scoring, so what is he doing in terms of on-ice contributing? Well, he’s hitting people at least. Martin is probably going to match his total for body checks from last season, currently on pace for about 367 this year compared to 365 he landed with the Isles last season. That part of his game has been as-advertised, but for 10-million dollars and a roster spot locked in for these next four seasons, is it really worth it? [No, of course it isn’t.]