A polarizing player in Toronto, Martin Marincin came into the 2016-17 season looking to become a consistent top six defenceman for the Maple Leafs. Due to injury and disappointing play when he did see ice-time, Marincin appeared in just 25 games a year ago. Now 25 years of age, time is starting to run out for the big Slovakian, and 2017-18 will be a big year in determining Martin Marincin’s future in Toronto.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Martin Marincin
Coming off of a seven point, 65 game campaign on the 2015-16 last place Toronto Maple Leafs, Marincin began the year alongside Morgan Rielly. After just a couple games, he suffered his first injury of the season, forcing him to miss three games.
By the time he came back, his spot beside Rielly was gone. Nikita Zaitsev had proved he was NHL ready in the few games Marincin had missed, forcing the Slovakian back into a top six position at best. He was in and out of the lineup for the next month, failing to lock down a regular role stuck behind Rielly, Jake Gardiner, and Matt Hunwick on the left side.
On December 10, against the Boston Bruins, Marincin found himself in the lineup in place of Connor Carrick. After just 2:34 of ice-time, he was back in the locker room with a lower-body injury that would force him to miss 18 games.
Due to the Leafs remarkable health over the year, Marincin was held to just 25 regular season games. Although he played 40 fewer games than the year previous, Marincin scored seven points, the same amount as in 2016-17.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 209 lbs
NHL Draft: Second Round, 46th Overall in 2010 by Edmonton
Contract (via CapFriendly)
Signed on July 29, 2016, Martin Marincin is entering the final year of a two-year, $2.5 million contract. Although his cap hit is $1.25 million, the Slovakian will make $1.3 million in base salary, as his salary last season was $1.2 million.
He does not have any signing bonus or performance bonuses either. Come season’s end, Marincin will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Regardless as to whether he receives consistent minutes or sits in the press box as a seventh defenceman, Marincin’s cap hit does not cause any problems.
With the departure of Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin has a chance to get back in the regular lineup. Although the Leafs signed Ron Hainsey, it seems likely that the Stanley Cup champion will play on the right side. That leaves one spot on the Leafs defence, the left side on the third pairing.
Marincin will be in tough competition, however. Prospects Travis Dermott and Rinat Valiev will be looking to make the jump to the National Hockey League, while the new Swedish signings in Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman can also make a run at the job. His experience with the Leafs could put Marincin as the favourite to start the year heading into training camp, but do not be surprised to see one of Marincin’s competitors to see minutes early as well.
As the departed Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak often found themselves killing penalties, Mike Babcock could be looking for a penalty killer to fill in the role on the bottom pairing. Marincin fits this description, as he found himself on the penalty kill in the limited time he did see.
Overall, the 2017-18 season will be a big decider in Martin Marincin’s future with Toronto. As an RFA after this year, Marincin will need to prove he can play regular minutes on a good NHL team if he wants a raise. If not, the 25-year old is still a solid, cheap depth option that is serviceable on the bottom pairing and on the penalty kill.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images