Pittsburgh Penguins Will Miss Paul Martin: What’s Next For the Veteran Defenseman?

When Paul Martin joined the Pittsburgh Penguins via free agency in 2010, Pens fans were ecstatic.  An experienced shutdown defenseman with puck skills and a high hockey I.Q., what’s not to be excited about?

Martin’s first season with the Pittsburgh Penguins was near disastrous, though.  Fans wanted him out and you could tell that his confidence was at an all-time low.  Along with Zbynek Michalek, also signed via free agency that summer, he struggled in Pittsburgh’s system.  But, he wasn’t ready to give up that easy.

Michalek and Martin were both offered the opportunity to be traded at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season.  Michalek obliged and was traded at the 2011 Entry Draft to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for prospects Harrison Ruopp and Marc Cheverie, as well as a third-round pick.  Paul Martin, however, declined Ray Shero’s offer and stated that he wanted to be a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lucky us…

Martin went on to be one of the most reliable defensemen on the Pens roster over the next four years.  He has been nothing short of outstanding for this team.  He accrued 109 points and is one of the few defensemen that can be relied upon in any situation.  He was also a glue-player, always remaining calm and keeping things in perspective during trying times.

So, what’s next for Paul Martin now that his tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins has concluded?

There’s always the minuscule chance that Martin resigns with the Pens, though it doesn’t seem likely.  The two sides did not discuss contract terms this past season and it seems clear that Martin is looking to move on.  And, with all due respect, the Pittsburgh Penguins should be as well.

Rumor’s ran rampant throughout the season that Paul Martin would be traded before the deadline, likely to a team like the Minnesota Wild.  However, when it was concluded that Olli Maatta would require season-ending shoulder surgery that became highly unlikely.  The Minnesota Wild could ultimately be the final destination for Martin’s career, though.

Paul Martin grew up and played high school hockey in Elk River, Minnesota.  His family still resides there, while he lives in the city of his respective team throughout the season.

Considering the Wild’s need for a veteran defenseman, and the fact that Martin fits their system perfectly, it really seems to be a perfect place for what could be Paul Martin’s final NHL contract.  Let’s not forget that Martin can still play at a very high level, and Minnesota is a team that’s on the bubble of becoming a contender.  So, this isn’t simply a come-home-to-retire decision as there’s work to do and an opportunity to be successful.  The Wild also have the cap room to sign him to a 4-year deal in the ballpark of $4 to $4.5 million, which is likely what it will take to acquire his services.

Of course, this is all speculation as Paul Martin hasn’t hinted to where he’d like to sign for next season.  There will be no shortage of teams competing for him, either.  Maybe he’ll become a journeyman defenseman in chase of that elusive Stanley Cup?  Chances are slim, but you never know, right?

Wherever Paul Martin ends up, the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans should be grateful for all that he has done.  He is a consummate professional who stared adversity in the eyes after his first season in Pittsburgh and proved to be all that the Pittsburgh Penguins could have hoped for, and more.

I’ll forever be rooting for Paul Martin to win a championship.  Unless he signs with the Flyers or is competing against the Pens, of course.  I’ve gone from being one of Martin’s biggest critics to one of his biggest fans.  But, who hasn’t?