The Bruins have long been in the market for a left shot defenseman that could eat minutes, bring a little experience and perhaps form a pairing with Charlie McAvoy that would allow Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo to reform last season’s shutdown pairing. Several hockey sources indicated to NBCSportsBoston.com that the Bruins had kicked the tires on Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole, but that the price for him was deemed too high at the time of those discussions. Well, another veteran left shot defenseman has become available with the San Jose Sharks placing 36-year-old Cup winning defenseman Paul Martin on waivers.
Martin has been limited to three games this season due to an ankle injury with the Sharks, and San Jose failed to find any takers in a trade given the $4.85 million cap hit through next season for the graybeard D-man. But Martin played in 81 games for the Sharks as recently as last season while averaging a tick under 20 minutes per game, and is the kind of puck-moving, solid-defending D-man that they’ve been looking for in trade discussions.
Martin finished with four goals and 26 points along with a plus-10 for the Sharks last season, and by all accounts should be able to still perform if given an opportunity to work his way into the Black and Gold lineup.
Why not pick up Martin for nothing aside from his contract when he’s been a top-4 defenseman his entire career rather than trade for a guy like that’s never averaged 20 minutes per game during his entire NHL career?
Here’s what Bruins President Cam Neely told the Season Ticket podcast earlier this season when asked what the B’s would be looking for at the trade deadline.
“We’re always looking at the club and seeing where we can upgrade and I think we could probably find some depth on the right side up front and maybe on the left D side,” said Neely. “We’ve talked about ... a guy that can eat up some minutes—move the puck well, skate well—but not necessarily have to be that offensive defensemen.”
That certainly sounds a lot like a description of what Martin has been throughout his 14-year. 859-game NHL career with the Devils, Penguins and Sharks.
Clearly the Bruins would have to do a little roster maneuvering to make it happen salary cap-wise, and might even have to deal off a useful NHL asset like Ryan Spooner or Adam McQuaid. But they could also finally lock in a top-4 left shot defenseman that would allow them to push Torey Krug down to a bottom pairing role more befitting his strengths and weaknesses, as well as reunite the Chara and Carlo shutdown pair.
The real question is whether the Bruins believe that Martin has something left in the tank at 36 years old to give them two serviceable seasons before young D-man prospects like Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon or Urho Vaakanainen might be ready to step in and supplant him. If the Bruins think that Martin can still play and they are correct in that assessment, they could land the type of grizzled, proven D-man they’ve been looking for and give up nothing for him if they put in a claim and pick up his contract before noontime tomorrow.