Martin Marincin, Expectations and Results

Jonathan Willis
March 26 2014 03:29PM

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At his press availability on Wednesday, Dallas Eakins was lobbed a softball question about rookie defenceman Martin Marincin, who has been one of the few pleasant surprises on the team this season. Rather than extol the defender’s virtues, Eakins chose to focus on the challenge still ahead of the player.

The Coach’s View

Dallas Eakins 12

There are still challenges with his game. I think the best way to put it is he’s played well for a first-year defenceman, and same with Oscar [Klefbom]. In that game last night we’re playing against a Stanley Cup contender and we’ve got two guys that are so green on our back end. Again, it’s hey, this is what it’s going to be like basically every night in our conference because our conference is loaded with teams like that. You have to learn very quickly, if you’re going to turn into an NHL defenceman – and I mean an NHL defenceman is one who is going to play 82 games a year, every year, not ‘hey, let’s see what he can do under these circumstances’ – then you’re going to have to win the battles, you’re going to have to be able to play against Thornton and Marleau and Backes, all these guys. It’s like I spoke about right when I came in here, it can’t be ‘well, he did okay but he’s young.’ It doesn’t matter, you have to be able to play and you have to be able to win against those other players that you’re going up against every night, and that’s the challenge for a guy like Marincin and Klefbom.

So, to recap: There are still problems with Marincin’s game, he’s playing well for a rookie but the team’s at a point where ‘he’s playing well for a rookie’ isn’t good enough, and he needs to show he can be an every night defenceman.

The Numbers

3.26.14DCorsi

The chart above shows the 10-game rolling Corsi averages for the four real defencemen currently on the Oilers’ roster (data courtesy of ExtraSkater.com). It shouldn’t be taken as an absolute guide as to the ability of the player, but it does show what’s happening on the ice.

In Marincin’s case, what’s happening is largely good. His line (purple) has been consistently ahead of the other three (regular partner Jeff Petry is marching in lock-step) and that’s despite a pile of starts in the defensive zone and some tough competition.

Which is Real?

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So which is the correct view? Is the coach right that Marincin still needs a lot of work, or are the numbers correct in that he’s NHL-ready right now?

I think the answer is probably ‘both’.

Marincin’s got a big frame but he’s still lanky and he’s not especially physical for a guy who stands 6’4”. More than that, he’s prone to brain cramps in front of his own net (which puts him in the same class as every other defender on the roster).

With that said, there are enough good points here right now that they’re driving on-ice results. Watching Marincin defend his own blue line is a real treat; he has such great reach that he can make a poke check play when an opponent comes within reach and still have enough space to stay in front of that opponent if it doesn’t work. He can take and make a pass, even under pressure, and that’s something the current Oiler blue isn’t especially good at.

He’s one of a bunch of players the Oilers need to be better if they’re ever going to pull out of the NHL basement. But he’s also a guy who drives results, and that’s something Edmonton has nowhere near enough of on the back end.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 @Oilanderp
March 26 2014, 08:44PM
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Spydyr wrote:

They could have signed Gilbert without giving up anything this summer and choose not to.His last team liked him so much they brought him out.Mac-T has such a low opinion of Gilbert he thought Grebeshkov was the better option.

Maybe. We don't know for sure that MacT didn't make an offer that Gilbert snubbed. Still, I just think it's hilarious that Minnie bought him out! The math showed his GF% lagging well behind his CF%, which made him extremely likely for a bounce-back year.

But in mentioning math I have already said too much....

Hey who knows, maybe the 5th round pick will be a future stud!

*sheds a tear*

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#52 DrunkGuyTy
March 26 2014, 09:21PM
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He's playing like a rookie d-man with some good potential. It may be a bit soon, but he could be up for good. Depends what happens in the summer. Another 20 lbs would be nice. Another 50 lbs and an anger issue would be ideal.

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#53 Ryan2
March 26 2014, 09:44PM
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Marincin has a mean streak, as well as more offensive ability, but he is playing it safe now and it is working. Remember the head hunting of that US forward in the WJHC?

WRT his offence, watch how he jumps into the play, and then watch to see if the Oilers forwards actually have their heads up and notice it. You see this with JSChultz jumping up as well - the forwards do not use the points properly or even look to them in most cases. The d-men will jump up, but our forwards will be focused on their own shot/drive and miss the opportunity. Contrast that to teams like St. Louis, Boston, etc. that actually recognize openings that the d-men have jumped into or use them to set up the offensive zone play. Granted, the Oilers only have a couple of players that can move the puck properly to set the table like that, but it would not hurt the forwards to try using them once in a while.

Marincin does make a great first pass, short or stretch, under pressure, though. Right now he is the best of the blueline for the Oilers which speaks volumes about the quality of the vets.......

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#54 Hardcore39
March 26 2014, 10:39PM
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Man it's amazing what the same coach, with the same systems, with the same core groups of players can do for a team. OKC is proof of this. The players playing down there have had some stability whereas the big club has been in disarray for 8 years. Eakins is going to be given time to try and work with this team. Get over it. No one is getting fired with 3 more years on his contract.

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#55 Anton CP
March 27 2014, 12:56AM
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Considering that Maricin is the ONLY Oilers that played for more than 30 games and still on + is a good indication that he may have a good future with this team. 6'5",196 lbs. is a good size for D.

Also, Oilers is not as small as most peoples suggested. Oilers are actually around average in both height and weight which is similar to Blackhawks. Just because that they play soft doesn't mean that they are actually small.

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#56 BobbyCanuck
March 27 2014, 07:18AM
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Total Points wrote:

I still don't understand why they traded Smid. Would he have good enough while we wait for the young guys.

Does anybody know why he was traded?

Rumor has it that he called out Eberle on his shoddy defensive play, and the golden group did not like it so they told MacT to get rid of him

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#57 Bishai in the Benches
March 27 2014, 02:27PM
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@BobbyCanuck

Source?? That seems like one of the worst rumors I ever heard... Eklund is that you???

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#58 Oilersjohn
March 27 2014, 06:10PM
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What our defence needs is Charlie Huddy.

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