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2015-16 Season Review: Alec Martinez

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The Kings had some really good defensemen last year, and they had some pretty bad ones. Somewhere in the middle, there's Alec...

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Player

Martinez Player Card

Key Numbers

  • 52.9% Corsi For%: Alec Martinez's possession numbers have dropped, it's no secret. This year, he had the second-worst figure on the Kings' blueline, which is a concern when you're spending two-thirds of your time with Jake Muzzin. Their situational use was more taxing than in past years -- read on -- but their 55.6% Corsi For as a combo lagged behind their totals in past seasons. Then we take into account poor results with Luke Schenn and (in limited time) catastrophic results with Brayden McNabb, which give us a figure which simply isn't that good when you're a King.
  • 55.8% Goals For%: How do you get past bad possession numbers? For one, good goal numbers. For the third straight season, Martinez's on-ice goal counts looked a lot better than his possession counts, and even his expected Goals For% (which attempts to account for shot quality) shows that his relatively poor possession numbers don't tell the entire story. It's complicated trying to factor in all the different reasons Martinez might come out ahead -- luck, blocked shots, goaltending performance, situations -- but it's starting to become a given.
  • 10 Goals: Martinez helps his own case by scoring goals. He regularly shoots at a higher percentage than any other Kings defenseman, and though he didn't hit the crazy run of shooting luck he hit in 2013-14, he was effective both at even strength and on the power play. For what it's worth, he had the lowest average shot distance of any LA blueliner as well.
  • 49.6% Offensive Zone Start Percentage: There are questions as to how much zone start percentage, calculated with the equation Offensive Zone Starts/(Offensive Zone Starts+Defensive Zone Starts), really impacts a player's possession numbers, especially since so many shifts start on the fly rather than in one zone or the other. However, there is no debate that Martinez was given more defensive zone starts than any other King. In fact, he was the only King who started more shifts in his own zone than in the offensive zone. (Anze Kopitar, who had the lowest Zone Start % of any forward, still got 36 more faceoffs in the offensive zone than he did in the defensive zone.) When the difference is that significant, it'll make some difference.
  • 21:09 Time on Ice Per Game: Martinez, Doughty, and Muzzin are a Big Three of sorts on defense now, and if it wasn't evident as the season began, it is now. In addition to ice time, Martinez was third in assists, points, shots, and points per game behind Doughty and Muzzin, and he's regularly getting the call in all situations. Though his even strength scoring totals were underwhelming, the days of Martinez being given healthy scratches (or even harsh Darryl Sutter assessments) are long gone.

Assessment

Was Alec Martinez important to the Kings in 2015-16? Absolutely. Watch the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs if you doubt that. Was he great in 2015-16? It never seems to be a simple question with Martinez, who doesn't get the overwhelmingly positive statistical evaluation of a Muzzin or the overwhelmingly positive intangible evaluation of a Doughty. And for better or for worse, Alec is stuck getting compared to Drew and Jake for the next few years. If Martinez's biggest flaw is that he's not either of those guys, though, that's not bad at all.

(Side note: LA Kings Insider's voters gave Martinez a higher grade than Muzzin this season. That underscores how often his performances exceeded his possession numbers this season.)

Highlight

Chest-bumps.

Close second: Martinez jumping for joy after this overtime game-winner, because anything that echoes June 13, 2014 even a little bit is worth re-watching.

Lowlight

Martinez was bound to screw up in his own end every so often, and he took four delay of game (puck over glass) penalties this season. Particularly maddening: taking one during Jake Muzzin's butt-check major penalty against Arizona, and then doing it on back-to-back nights in New York. For someone who doesn't make obvious mistakes too often, it was an unsettling habit.

The Future

Alec Martinez is 28 now, and on any night where Tom Gilbert and Rob Scuderi are out the lineup, he'll be the oldest guy on the Kings' blueline. Isn't that crazy? He's probably praying for another season of mostly Jake Muzzin on his defensive pair, but he'll be expected to dodge the rough patches he encountered in the first couple months of the season and anchor difficult minutes. And if he ends up taking shifts with one of the many new arrivals or the true elder statesmen, he'll be expected to excel in spite of that.

Grade

Compared to his two more-heralded defensive friends he lags a bit, and Alec Martinez certainly had rough patches this season. By the end of 2015-16, though, he adapted reasonably well to a new role, new partners, and perhaps a new playing style. B.