Last night the Oklahoma City Barons made Martin Marincin a scratch. It seemed at first it was a healthy scratch but Jim Matheson suggests he might be a little banged up. Nonetheless they took him out.* They won the game, though on the back of a great performance
by Richard Bachman. I won’t be so bold as to say he didn’t deserve to be made a
scratch because unlike when he was demoted from the Oilers I haven’t had the
chance to see him play. What I will say is that Martin Marincin’s success needs
to be a priority for the club.
I say this knowing
full well that Marincin remains a tradable asset that the team may use in order to
upgrade their defense or potentially the goaltending. Martin Marincin is a
player, I understand, that many visiting pro-scouts are continually interested in. He
has pedigree, some puck moving ability, and stands tall. There’s enough there
to entice other clubs, just as his raw abilities should entice the Oilers
He is a polarizing figure among the Oilers defenders. Two
people can watch him and one can see a young defenseman with lots of promise
who excels at defending his own blueline and moving the puck back up ice while
the other sees a big man who won’t use his size in front of his own net and who
doesn’t appear to be intense enough on the ice. And, dare I say, both can be
I would like to believe that at just 23 years of age and fewer
than a 100 NHL games played there’s plenty of time for Marincin to iron out the
warts in his game. Our friend Lowetide has hammered home the 300 game plateau
for defensemen enough that I’m willing to believe that a kid who hasn’t made it 1/3
of the way there has some growing left to do in his game.
When we reflect on the season that was, and we try to make
sense of it, I think it’s important not to let being a healthy scratch in
the AHL erase what he did in the NHL. And what he did at the NHL level is
primarily fill the role of a shutdown defenseman. This was no easy task — it set him up to fail in a way that the Oilers refused to do with Justin
Schultz, and it’s interesting because when Marincin played the same role as
Schultz (ie with Schultz) the results were fantastic.
Marincin’s two most common defensive partners this past year
were Fayne and Schultz, though it wasn’t actually close as he only played 75
minutes 5v5 with Schultz compared to 330 minutes with Fayne.
With Fayne, Marincin saw just 41.2% of his time in the
offensive zone compared to the defensive zone. Fayne didn’t have anywhere near
as difficult starts with any of his other playing partners. Together they saw
brutal starting positions and yet with the Slovak the duo allowed 2.17 goals
against per 60 minutes and without Marincin Fayne was averaging 3.01 goals
against per 60 minutes. Marincin without Fayne averaged just 1.78 goals against
per 60. As far as possession goes they struggled to create much (understandable
given their starting positions) and finished at 46.3% CF.
With Schultz, Marincin started in the offensive zone 57.9%
of the time compared to the defensive zone, which must have seemed like pure
gravy compared to his assignments with his main partner. Keeping in mind their time
together was brief, the duo of Schultz and Marincin allowed exactly 0 goals
against 5v5. That’s ridiculous enough on its own, however not only did they
keep the puck out of their own net, but they were producing a fantastically
high 69.14 Shot Attempts per 60 minutes while doing it.
Two very different roles and the numbers suggest good things
were happening with Marincin on the ice no matter which one he was in. Not
everyone trusts the numbers. Still, by my eye he was behind only Oscar Klefbom
over the final quarter of the season even accounting for his inconsistent
His relative success with the Oilers is what makes his
struggles during these AHL playoffs that much more curious to me. It’s also why
I will continue to preach patience. There is a player in Martin Marincin and
I’m willing to bet it’s a good one. I warn against prematurely deciding the
lanky kid is a lost cause because of all the reasons I laid out above, but
there are some other numbers that factor into why Marincin’s development should
be a priority for the Oil: 3.25, 4.5, and 0.
3.25 and 4.5 are how many millions of dollars the Oilers will be paying their 5-6 defensemen Ference and Nikitin next year. Zero is how
many blueliners drafted outside of the 1st round the Oilers have
developed since Jeff Petry. The Oilers are paying top dollar to free agent
players just to fill spots on the roster that their own prospects should be
The Oilers need to find out what’s wrong with Martin
Marincin and make it right because it’s going to save them millions of dollars
of cap space when they do. The fact that he is playing very inconsistently in the AHL is a warning sign but it isn’t the end of the world. Ryan Johansen went from being an AHL healthy scratch to starring in the NHL. It’s a stumble but not the sign of total failure. They need to figure out how to make Marty a bonafide NHL
player so they can start doing the same to all the other kids down at the farm
who didn’t come in Blue Chips already.
Through a combination of bad scouting and poor development
after the fact, the Oilers have been unable to produce enough NHL defensemen
from their system to prevent them from paying top dollar for free agents. This
is a very real problem and one that will come back to haunt them when they need
those cap dollars to upgrade over the very free agents they felt
compelled to pay.
Martin Marincin remains one of Edmonton’s most tradable
assets as they need to address the overall talent on the defense. Some might
have already given up on his future with the Oilers, and this episode in the AHL
only reaffirms their conclusions, but I strongly believe that would be a
mistake. The Oilers need to figure out what it will take to get this player
heading in the right direction again. They need to do it because his tools are
too good to give up on and frankly they need to do it because if they can’t
then they will be forced to continue overpaying for the Andrew Ferences and the
Nikita Nikitins of the NHL.
*H/T to jonrmcleod as I missed the potential injury news originally