Originally cross posted at Goon's World. NHL Fanhouse blogger Bruce Ciskie has an interesting blog post about former Gopher Paul Martin and his free agency status. You would have to wonder if the Minnesota Wild wouldn’t entertain signing him to appease the State of Hockey. What do you think? Would he fit into the Wild’s plans? The Minnesota Wild need two top-nine forwards and have $11.5 million in free cap space to spend. The Minnesota Wild have 19 players signed so far.
Martin doesn't throw vicious checks, but he's still effective in his own zone. When the puck is on his stick, he makes smart, effective passes and has very little panic when faced with forecheck pressure. He isn't a high-scoring defenseman like Gonchar is, but he'll still make a good fixture on a team's second power play unit, and he is capable of 50 points over a full season if he's in the right system and can stay healthy.
He's a good player, and he isn't likely to cost an arm and a leg. Where's the love?
Perhaps Martin isn't considered an elite player, which makes perfect sense. Of course, then it makes no sense to have teams practically salivating over Hamhuis, who is virtually the same player minus a pretty serious injury this past season. Does Martin's rough contract year mean the Devils have the inside track on signing him because he's not a desirable player?
In the grand scheme of things, it seems Martin is being penalized because he broke his forearm blocking a shot -- a totally freak accident that is not a recurring injury. This isn't Marian Gaborik's groin. It's a broken bone suffered in a situation that is highly unlikely to ever repeat itself.
Outside of that, he's been a very steady player for a very good team for a number of years. Martin's exploits go all the way back to high school in Elk River, Minn., when he was one of the best players in a hockey-centric state. He was then a major part of two Minnesota Gopher national championship teams.
ShareHis consistency should get him some bites in free agency, assuming he's interested in leaving New Jersey. If a team like Phoenix, Atlanta, Minnesota or Toronto come calling with the right deal, it's going to be hard for Martin to say "no," regardless of where his NHL loyalties lie now. He can help those teams with his steady defensive hand, combined with his underrated puck skills on the power play.