Fans of this site know how much we value Alec Martinez, and for good reason. He’s a Stanley Cup winner twice over, a player who has an uncanny knack for scoring big goals at big times, is not afraid to sacrifice his body and block shots, leads by example and does a million little things that make him an incredibly important player to the Vegas Golden Knights. While the VGK figure out if they can swing a deal for Jack Eichel, they also need to get Martinez back into the fold as quickly as possible.
I’m not a giant fan of fancy stats, but I do think they have their place when used in conjunction as a look at the overall larger picture. Martinez does some things that will come as no surprise to an avid Golden Knights fan. His 168 blocks not only led the team but the entire NHL, putting him a full 40 blocks ahead off Edmonton’s Adam Larson. Watching him play you realize what his veteran presence, reading and reacting as the play unfolds and typically covering for his defensive partner who has joined the rush. Martinez is an important part of the defensive structure of the team.
What you may not realize is how important he is to the offense as well. Among Golden Knights defensemen this past regular season, Martinez was second in both goals (6) and assists (16). At five-on-five, Martinez was third in individual expected goals-for (4.08), and fourth in both individual Corsi-for (142) and individual Fenwick-for (88). Of course, Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo run one-two in almost all of those categories.
Those numbers rise to ixG of 6.09, iCF of 183, and iFF of 122 in all situations. Not bad for a 33-year-old defenseman.
But that does bring up the down side of Martinez, and that’s his age. While I don’t think we’re going to see any type of immediate drop in his numbers next season, it does make the term challenging. Signing Martinez for two, or perhaps three years if it nets the team a break on the salary, would be ideal. Anything longer than that and you’re really taking your chances with age.
Martinez is smart enough to stay ahead of the play and keep himself out of trouble even as the wheels slow down. I do worry about physical durability with a player who blocks as many shots as Martinez does. As we just found out the other day, he was playing on a broken foot in the playoffs this year.
When it’s all said and done, the positives of what Alec Martinez brings to the table for the Vegas Golden Knights far outweighs the downside of age for the forseeable future. Re-signing him must become a major priority this summer for the VGK.