The Toronto Maple Leafs added a whopping seven-year, $77MM contract to the books when they landed top free agent John Tavares yesterday, and will have to be careful how they spend their cap space going forward. One of the players who is taking up a good chunk without giving much back to the team is Matt Martin, who became a healthy scratch part way through the 2017-18 season and doesn’t look to have a role on the team going forward. Yesterday, in a piece talking about how the Maple Leafs can fit Tavares in with their other young stars, James Mirtle of The Athletic (subscription required) wrote that the team was trying to move Martin’s contract and he’d heard the New York Rangers in connection with it.
Today Larry Brooks of the New York Post tweets that Martin is actually “in demand” on the trade market, after the Maple Leafs paid out a $1.5MM signing bonus. That drops Martin’s salary this season to just $750K, while next season would cost $1.75MM for any acquiring team. The cap hit involved with Martin is $2.5MM, an obvious contract to shed if the Maple Leafs are trying to save cap space.
Martin, 29, has been a fixture on the fourth line with the New York Islanders and Maple Leafs for years, leading the league in hits several times. While he’s never recorded 20 points in a single campaign, he was well-regarded as an on and off-ice leader and valuable asset to have on the bench. Unfortunately as the Maple Leafs gave more and more ice time to young wingers like Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, Martin’s role on the team was almost completely eradicated. If Toronto is really looking to move him at this point, it could signify that they have even more plans for their forward group in free agency, since he’s one of only 10 NHL forward currently under contract.