The Pittsburgh Penguins Should Trade Paul Martin Despite Olli Maatta Injury


With multiple sources reporting that Pittsburgh Penguins‘ defenseman Olli Maatta is likely done for the year, Penguins management is likely reevaluating whether or not they want to pursue a trade for a top six winger in exchange for veteran Paul Martin.

Martin is a proven leader and has consistently shown his value on and off the ice.  He is a responsible defender who always finds himself in great position in relationship to the puck. He can play in a stretch-pass system focused on speed (as demonstrated under Dan Bylsma) or a possession system (under Coach Mike Johnston).  It is for these very reasons that the Penguins should trade him. 

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For the sake of this argument, we will assume that Maatta is done for the season.  If Maatta is done for the year and Martin is traded, the Penguins top six Defenseman are as follows: Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo, Rob Scuderi, and a Wilkes-Barre call up (most likely Derrick Pouliot).  This is a workable group of defenders that begins the necessary transition to a younger blue line. In addition to the benefit of getting younger on the blue line, Martin’s trade stock is still relatively high.

If the Penguins trade Paul Martin now, they have a legitimate shot at landing a player who can pitch in offensively right away. What the Penguins (would) lose in Martin is a mobile guy who is able to gobble up big minutes.  However, Simon Despres has proven himself to be crafty with the puck and shown the ability to jump up offensively.  Additionally, he has vastly improved his defensive positioning while maintaining his ability to hit, an element that Martin’s game never developed. Despres could easily take on additional minutes in the event of Martin’s departure.

Nov 29, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Robert Bortuzzo (41) looks on during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Bortuzzo has also shown that he is an NHL-ready blueliner.  Fans may like him for his willingness to stand up for teammates and his fortitude, but he has more skill with the puck than he gets credit for and his big body is great for challenging forwards in front of the net. Bortuzzo should find himself playing a larger role as well in the event that Paul Martin is traded.

The following are the Defensive pairings that I would put on the ice in the absence of Paul Martin and Olli Maatta: 

(1) Ehrhoff/Letang – this is a strong pairing with two great skaters with offensive vision

(2) Despres/Bortuzzo – both guys have big bodies, have complementary playing styles, and were paired up in Wilkes-Barre

(3) Scuderi/Pouliot – Scuderi’s commitment to defense could help sculpt Pouliot into an elite defender with a complete game

Penguins Management owes Evgeni Malkin a top six winger with the season he is having.  By trading Paul Martin, the Penguins could solidify the forward lineup without losing much on the back end, especially with the young talent in Wilkes-Barre.  It is time to pull the trigger.