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Matt Martin is done as a Maple Leaf, so what do they do with him?

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It appears that the team has moved on halfway through a four year deal.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders
Everyone loved Martin on Long Island...
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In 31 Thoughts last week, Elliotte Friedman dropped this line:

I also think the Maple Leafs would keep money to help Matt Martin find a new home. No doubt they have checked with the Islanders.

Friedman is well connected and often hears things, but this was phrased as his own thought so I’m not going to take it as gained information on his part.

It did bring up a good question though. What do the Maple Leafs do with Matt Martin? It’s been a while since he played and even Mike Babcock has hinted that Martin is being passed over by the most recent call up, Kasperi Kapanen

“Marty is a real important guy and, obviously, a real good guy,” Babcock said this week. “You don’t want him out of the lineup. In saying that, though, Kapanen is an elite penalty killer and has real good speed. We’ve got real good tempo. Those are hard decisions you make.

In my mind, the team has moved on from him. Last year Martin dressed for all 82 games, and added five goals and four assists, or $278,778 per point. He’s been a much better player this year, in 47 games he had three goals and eight assists ($158,847/point). However he’s sat for a few games here and there before ultimately losing his spot in the line up when Kasperi Kapanen was recalled from the Toronto Marlies.

In the last game against the Ottawa Senators the Maple Leafs dressed the following forward line up:

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Mitch Marner
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Connor Brown
Leo Komarov - Dominic Moore - Kasperi Kapanen

This has been the typical forward lines since Martin was sat out. Kapanen has now equaled Martin’s 16-17 season points in his first 14 games this year, and should pass Martin’s 17-18 points before the season is over. The addition of Kapanen to the fourth line now gives the team more scoring depth and provides a new face for the special teams as well.

Another factor is that Nikita Soshnikov is going to have to be returned to the Maple Leafs soon. The Leafs were granted an extension on Sosh’s AHL rehab assignment but when it’s over there will be one too many forwards, unless someone magically gets put on IR the day before Sosh is due up.

Yes, Josh Leivo is there too, but he must be some kind of structural foundation for the pressbox by now. If they don’t have him there for a game the whole thing might collapse.

So what happens now? As quoted above the Leafs may be looking to move Matt Martin in a trade before the deadline. We’re halfway through year two of the contract, with two more years at $2.5 million against the cap. This year he has a $753,000 cap hit for the rest of the season, and next year he’s owed a $1.5 million bonus on July 1st, and a base salary of $750,000. The year after it’s the same salary and a $1 million bonus.

The Leafs could trade him, someone may want him. Friedman said Islanders, and he was very popular there with the fans and teammates, and everyone around the team.

They have about $4.8 million in cap space right now, so Martin is a drop in the bucket. Looking for the next two years their cap space is wide open. If we don’t retain salary, in my assumption we would be looking at a minimal return, a 6th or 7th round pick, maybe an older AHLer like Stephan Gionta if they want to drop a contract (they are at 44 right now though, so it’s not an issue).

If we retain the full 50% for the next two years, and send him away with just a $1.5 million cap hit you could take back a B/C level prospect or maybe a 3rd round pick. Then you’ll have $1 million on the cap for the next two years, which isn’t a lot, but it’s not a good look to be paying someone to play elsewhere.

You could buy him out if there are no takers, but this is worse than retaining salary. According to CapFriendly there would be $2 million on the cap the next two seasons, and then $250,000 the two after. So, buying him out seems like a waste of money.

Do they waive him, cross their fingers someone wants a free Martin and dump him on the Marlies? The Leafs have done this with veteran players before - hello Brooks Laich - but we won’t save too much cap wise that way. However, if he clears it may be easier to trade him since he’s already cleared waivers and the buyer won’t have to worry about that.

There’s no easy answer but the clock is ticking.

Poll

What would you prefer to do with Matt Martin?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Trade and take back a bad contract on a better player.
    (174 votes)
  • 30%
    Trade and retain no salary no matter how bad the return
    (1036 votes)
  • 19%
    Trade and retain salary to get a better return
    (675 votes)
  • 1%
    Buy him out, no one will want him
    (53 votes)
  • 22%
    Waive him, send him to the Marlies if he clears.
    (759 votes)
  • 20%
    Keep him, it’s just 2 more years and he’s good in the room.
    (706 votes)
3403 votes total Vote Now