It’s now time to bring this On the Bubble series to a close. I figured why not do that in the most polarizing way possible and bringing up Martin Marincin, a defenseman who has number that will excite you with hundreds of different possibilities, but presents as a candidate for summer school after continually failing the eye test.
Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on this a number of times. I look at the stats and see how effective he has been at the things that can be measured well through data, and then I watch him and my eyes are bleeding while I shout, “WHY THE HELL AREN’T YOU MOVING YOUR FEET?!”
Marincin is exhausting and it would probably be easier if he wasn’t a Leaf, but he is. We are all veterans in the Cody Franson wars, and I have friends on both sides of that too. I don’t wish to lose more friends in a needless battle over Marincin, but I have to say, I’m definitely leaning towards him being a Leaf this season.
The Story on Marincin
One of the best things you’ll ever read on the Marincin debate exists on this very site, and pretty much everything from last year still applies now, so we’re going to refer back to it a lot.
Last September, Ian Tulloch wrote up “Chad Bradford, Martin Marincin, and the Imperfection of the Human Mind.” It is very good. And the part that most of us can agree on is this…
Everything about Marincin on the ice is unorthodox. He has a 50-foot stick; he looks awkward when he skates; his arms are so long and lanky he looks like a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man; he doesn’t seem to know how to handle a hockey puck – even when he scores it looks like an accident.
Yeah, that’s Marincin alright. During his time in Edmonton had all the favourite old school labels of:
- Not in good enough shape at the start of camp
- Doesn’t use his size enough
- Doesn’t try hard enough
Most of these are from Mark Spector, and probably are all the exact same things he wrote about Phil Kessel too. I’m not making a Kessel/Marincin comparison at all. I’m just saying the old school media really seem to hate unorthodox players.
Not surprising that this led to Marincin being dealt from the Oilers to Leafs for a 4th round pick and PED aficionado Brad Ross. Marincin immediately made the Leafs and some of us liked him. Others not so much. The important thing is that the 4th and Brad Ross were never heard from again.
Hooooooooooooo Doggy. I’m not sure I’m wanting to go here with Marincin, so again. Go and read Ian’s Marincin thesis. It has all the history about how Marincin is a king of shutting down plays in the neutral zone and limiting the number of shots that find their way to the front of the Leafs net. I’m not redoing that work. It’s all there. Instead I’ll fast forward to the last season and put up his AHL numbers…
I guess if we’re using offensive numbers as a barometer for Marincin’s success, we’ll be almost as disappointed as with the eye test. It’s worth noting that Marincin played a little less than guys like Holl and Borgman, who will also be competing for NHL job, but it’s also probably worth noting that Marincin had an absolutely obscene goals for % of 68.75, and was at 11.83 relative to his team. This really goes to show that there isn’t a percentage or relative percentage stat out there that Marincin can’t dominate, and considering that Hainsey is another year older and Roman Polak has moved on, perhaps Marincin is the stay at home defensive comfort food that Babcock wants, whether he’s ready to admit it yet or not.
Best Case Scenario for Marincin
The best case scenario for Marincin is that he’s seen as right side option, and gets his chance in the Leafs lineup somewhere in 4-6 in icetime. He becomes a staple of neutral zone and defensive starts, and inherits a lot of the penalty killing duties. With Rielly, Dermott, and Gardiner all being offensive minded defensemen at heart, Marincin is someone who is a safe bet to play high when they pick their spot. Particularly with Gardiner, I think there are a lot of complimentary skills that could benefit both players if paired together, they could go on to become the most Toronto stats guy pairing of all time.
Worst Case Scenario?
How many more years is Marincin wanting to be kicked around in North America? Odds are there has to be a team in Europe who is interested in paying him, and won’t give him the hard time the NHL has. If he clears waivers again, does he push for unconditional waivers next? Another stint in the AHL might be a bit much for a player who deserves another NHL shot, but probably won’t get it unless its with the Leafs.
To some he’s already a star. The misunderstood version of Anton Stralman or Jake Muzzin. In reality, Marincin is probably just looking for a couple more good years of NHL hockey before he sets up shop in Europe. Even if you’re kicking rocks over Marincin (like I seem to be lately) it’s with the knowledge that his prime is behind him and he’s not going to age like a fine wine. Perhaps we’re all best to resign ourselves to wondering what could have been and transfer our excitement to Connor Carrick, Andreas Borgman, and the next wave of tweener defensemen.
What’s Likely to Happen?
Sigh. We’ve got a long year of #FreeMarincin #CallupMarincin ahead of us. No matter whether Marincin is the 7th or 8th defenseman and seeing time in the pressbox, or if he’s putting in work on the Marlies, he’s probably not getting enough of shake compared to where some people want him to be.
The nice things that Dubas has said about him since the Calder Cup shouldn’t be forgotten, but need to be weighed against the fact that there is no shortage of Marlies we’ve had hyped up to us, and there is a very limited number of spaces available on the Leafs. Whether one of those spots belongs to Marincin or not, remains to be seen, but it’s probably not worth spilling too much digital ink over.