Due to a mid-season injury, and the fact that he’s already a player on the very edge of being considered NHL-caliber anyway, Martin Marincin played just 25 games on an improved Leafs club in his second season in Toronto. So, truthfully, there isn’t much to review in terms of his impact on the team in 2016-17.
But still, there is plenty to talk about with regard to Marincin’s fit with this team going forward, and since he’s a player that’s been used as Vegas fodder in so many expansion draft scenarios, it’s important to kind of size up what the Leafs would be missing if they do in fact lose him next week.
I suppose Marincin’s strength is that, by the eye test, he seems to be a player that’s smart defensively and can position himself well for a big guy who doesn’t move all that quickly. Upon joining the Leafs two years ago, Marincin was billed as a player that does a nice job breaking up zone entries, a player able to chew up some minutes in a depth role without getting his teeth knocked in.
In parts of two seasons, he’s basically been that for Toronto.
Marincin was a positive possession player relative to his teammates over the last two years, and no matter how you perceive his value, he doesn’t seem to have a knack for being part of catastrophic breakdowns like other stay-at-home minute-munchers like Polak. As Randy Carlyle would say, he’s been fine. Just fine.
Again, he’s been fine. But for a team looking to take a step forward and trying to eventually shore up a contender-worthy back-end, Marincin isn’t going to be much of an answer in that respect. He’s a bottom pairing-to-seventh defenceman, and at 25-years-old, that’s likely all he’ll ever be.
Marincin’s weakness is that he doesn’t present with much offensive upside or overall puck-moving skill, and that’s going to be a problem for the style the Leafs want to play as arguably the most up-tempo team in the entire league. If they want to improve that defence group overall, he really needs to be pushed out of it.
Marincin is a decently likely candidate for being scooped up by Vegas next week. Out of the Leafs’ entire blue-line, he’s easily the most likely to move on, as Gardiner, Rielly, and Carrick will almost assuredly be protected. Perhaps there isn’t much of a gap between Marincin and Carrick right now – their profiles from an underlying numbers standpoint have been quite similar – but keeping in mind the latter is two years younger and shoots right, that should be an easy decision for Toronto.
Marincin will be exposed, it’s just a question of whether or not the Leafs leave someone with higher upside exposed at forward (think Leivo, Leipsic, or Rychel) that Vegas might covet more.
If Marincin isn’t picked up by the Knights, he’ll stay with the Leafs through next season where he becomes an RFA in 2018. I’d expect him to be on the fringe of the roster, battling with the new Swedish imports (and perhaps newer names added in free agency) in training camp, and settling for a partial season as an injury fill-in.