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Tampa Bay Lightning 2019 Top 25 under 25 #21: Danick Martel, a player looking to break through

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Martel will be looking to solidify himself as an NHL player this coming season.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Next up is Danick Martel, the speedy undersized winger that was claimed off waivers early last season by general manager Julien BriseBois to provide some forward depth for the Lightning. Undrafted in multiple drafts, Martel signed a three-year entry level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on March 10, 2015. He also signed an amateur tryout with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on April 11, 2015.

Martel spent three seasons in Lehigh Valley, playing 199 games and scoring 120 points (68G, 52A) in that time span. He also appeared in 18 playoff games, scoring nine points (five goals, four assists). He did make a four-game appearance with the Flyers in the 2017-2018, but recorded no points during that stint. Martel made his way toward the Tampa Bay Lightning on September 22, 2018 when he was claimed off waivers by Julien BriseBois.

Here’s what BriseBois had to say about claiming Martel at the time:

“He’s a player we’d had on our radar for a while going back to his last year of junior when he was a free agent...He kind of fits our DNA in the sense that he’s really fast, he’s skilled and he’s tenacious.”

Martel was essentially injury insurance for the Lightning last season. His presence ensured the young forwards in Syracuse could continue to develop without any disruption. When he was called upon, Martel’s trademark speed and tenacity were apparent while on the ice, specifically on the forecheck. It only took until his second (dressed) game to score his first NHL point on December 18th against the Vancouver Canucks, when he made a gorgeous behind the back pass to Cedric Paquette.

Everything about this play is beautiful, from Dan Girardi’s stretch pass to Adam Erne deftly sliding the puck past the pressing defender into open space for Martel to recover, control, and connect with Paquette for a great one-timer. Brings a tear to my eye.

Martel had to wait a bit before registering his last point of the season, February 12th, against the Calgary Flames. Yet again, he set up Paquette for another one-timer.

This goal is 100% due to Martel’s tenacity. He races in and steals the puck to provide this scoring chance. Paquette, as great as the shot was, is just a beneficiary of Martel’s work on this goal.

Due to the forward talent that the Lightning boasted, Martel only managed to appear in nine games this season, which in some ways is disappointing, but is understandable. He was stuck behind Adam Erne on the depth chart and there was never a point during the season where it felt like Martel was definitively better than Erne or suited for the role Erne was performing. The only other forward that Martel could reasonably compete with was Mathieu Joseph, and given how Joseph exploded onto the scene for the Lightning, there was little chance Martel would jump ahead of him.

That said, in the limited viewings we got of Martel, he acquitted himself well. On a team with less forward talent, Martel could’ve definitely made an impact.

Danick Martel, 5v5 Unblocked Shot Rates For & Against, 2018-2019
Micah Blake McCurdy, @IneffectiveMath, www.hockeyviz.com

He didn’t move the needle much offensively, but defensively Martel did quite well. This should be taken with a grain a salt, though, since 91 minutes of 5v5 play is an extremely small sample size. Still, it’s better to have good performance in a small sample than bad performance in a small sample.

Now, if we move toward using WAR/GAR as a metric to gauge Martel’s performance, it’s a bit more bland. Utilizing Evolving-Hockey’s model, Martel only generated a 0.1 WAR and 0.5 GAR this season. This doesn’t really move the needle much, however, Paquette had the same exact WAR/GAR impact as Martel did and he played the entire season. Lastly, if we take a look at Evolving-Hockey’s RAPM metric, Martel comes out looking like this.

Danick Martel, EV & PP RAPM, 2018-2019
Evolving-Hockey, @EvolvingWild, https://evolving-hockey.com

Overall, this should be looked at positively, again small sample size, but there’s little reason to think Martel couldn’t provide a positive impact (albeit it will be on the lesser end) with an expanded role—he just has to earn a spot on the roster with a lot of forward talent.

Moving onto how the voting went down.

Well now, quite a wide array of opinions here. The average from all of you had Martel ranked 13th. While all of us at Raw Charge are a bit more cautious with him with an average of 25th. Personally, I ranked Martel 22nd. I like what he brings but he’s already 24 and is, at this time, a fringe NHL player. He’s good depth for the organization to have, but expecting Martel to break out a la Mathieu Joseph is going a bit far. Given his age and performance so far, I think Martel challenges for a fourth line role with the possibility of some third line looks just to see what he can do, but he’s more than likely going to be the 13th forward for the Lightning again this season.