Paul Martin Is The New “Brooks Orpik”


Brooks Orpik was perhaps one of the most underrated and beloved Pittsburgh Penguins of all time. He was originally drafted by the Penguins in the 2000 entry draft in the first round (18th overall). After waiting a mere two years Orpik made his NHL debut during the 2002-2003 season. The following season Orpik became a full time starter for the Penguins and played the first eleven years of his careers in the black and gold sweater.

Oct 22, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) is seen against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz- USA TODAY Sports

However during this last offseason the Pittsburgh Penguins decided it was time to part with their stalwart defender. His departure was due to the Penguins needing to get younger on the blueline and a lack of cap space. Very few Pittsburgh Penguins fans were happy to hear that Orpik signed a five year/$27.5 million dollar contract with the Washington Capitals.

Brooks Orpik was never a flashy offensive player evidenced by his thirteen career goals in over 700 games. His greatest asset was proving a physical defender who could kill penalties and shut down opponents top lines. He will forever be a legend in Pittsburgh.

After a tumultuous offseason, the Penguins entered the season with five defensemen who can consistently contribute offensively. These five defenders include Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta, Simon Despres and Paul Martin.

January 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) shoots the puck against the New York Islanders during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The New York Islanders won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That only leaves two defenders who should (in theory) be better at shutting down opponents top lines.

Well, those two defenders who cannot produce points happen to be Rob Scuderi and Robert Bortuzzo. Neither of them are exactly shutdown defenders, but more depth defensemen.

Entering the season Pittsburgh was searching for someone who could takeover Orpik’s shutdown role. The answer has been Paul Martin.

Martin was signed by Pittsburgh back in 2010 and has spent his time with Pittsburgh playing mostly with Orpik. However, Paul Martin never truly played a shutdown role until this season. Being paired with a player like Orpik allowed Martin to join rushes, quarterback the powerplay (at times) and unleash his cannon of a shot.

Paul Martin has dealt with his fair share of injuries over the last two seasons, but in his first four seasons with the Penguins he has averaged .435 points per game. Considering the role he was asked to play is quite impressive.

This season Martin has not missed any time with injuries as of yet but so far he has a mere four points (1 G – 3 A) in 17 games. If he continues at his current rate of .24 points per game it will be the lowest of career. Frankly, that rate might go down even further.

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This season Paul Martin has stepped into the role of Orpik and has been a big reason why the Penguins defense as a whole has performed much better.

Martin should continue his defensive dominance this season (barring any injuries) and has made Pittsburgh not regret letting Orpik leave.