Paul Martin Needs To Be Re-signed


The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading rapidly towards the end of their season with two of their top defenders on expiring contracts. Who might these defenders be? Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff  both might be leaving Pittsburgh. 

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Questions have been abundant about if both will leave the Penguins as free agents and it has also been rumored that Paul Martin wants to leave. However, the Penguins best option is to keep Paul Martin around on a one or two year deal and let Christian Ehrhoff walk.

I know what the response to this is going to be. “Paul Martin is an aging and injury prone defender” or that he “would cost too much to retain.” Wait until I fully explain the situation before you make any further judgement.

Here is the breakdown from a contract standpoint.

Next season the Pittsburgh Penguins will have Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Ben Lovejoy, Rob Scuderi and most likely Ian Cole under contract. At this point, the smart move is to buyout Rob Scuderi of the last two years of his contract. (However, I obviously am not in a position to decide that)

Feb 11, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (58) takes the ice against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If we assume that Rob Scuderi is bought out, you then have Letang, Maatta, Lovejoy, Cole, Derrick Pouliot and either Scott Harrington or Brian Dumoulin starting. That blueline would have an average age of 25.5 years old. That is far too young for a legitimate NHL defensive unit.

Ideally, the Penguins can resign Paul Martin on a two year deal worth $5.5-6 million and still be perfectly fine with the salary cap.

That blueline then would be Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Olli Maatta, Ben Lovejoy, Ian Cole and Derrick Pouliot. That blueline would have an average age of 27.3 years old. That experience is much more critical than most people think.

The biggest reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins undoubtedly need to keep Paul Martin is for Kris Letang. Statistically, there is no player who Kris Letang plays better with than Paul Martin. Additionally, Letang has publicly admitted that he feels the most comfortable playing with Paul Martin than any other defender he has played with, ever.

Here’s just part of the absurd table I’m using to validate my claim. This is only part of the table, if you want to look at the entire table it can be found here: Kris Letang’s Statistics With Individual Players

(Click on the table to zoom in)

Now those numbers are from every season since Paul Martin joined the Pittsburgh Penguins. When Kris Letang and Paul Martin are paired together, the Penguins score 4.66 goals per 60 minutes played and allow 2.89. When Letang is away from Martin the Penguins only score 2.70 goals per 60 minutes played and allow 2.31. The differential of goals scored for is tremendous and should be merit enough to keep Paul Martin for at least another season or two.

However, I mentioned that those numbers are from all five years, this last year has been their best season together. Let’s take a look: Kris Letang’s Statistics With Individual Players (Current Season)

(Click on the table to zoom in)

This past season when Paul Martin and Kris Letang play together the Penguins score 2.92 goals per sixty minutes and allow 1.51. While when Letang is apart from Martin the Penguins score 2.18 goals per sixty minutes and allow 2.52.

Closing Thoughts:

Whether or not you like Paul Martin, there is no doubt in my mind that the Pittsburgh Penguins need to resign him. The only reason why Letang has thrived this season and is in contention for the Norris trophy is because of his phenomenal play alongside Paul Martin.

While resigning Paul Martin would not be cheap and might force the Penguins to get creative with the salary cap, frankly they need to retain him if they want Kris Letang to continue performing at an All-Star level.

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