Wednesday: The trade for Martinez has been officially announced. Vegas receives the veteran defenseman in exchange for their 2020 second-round pick and St. Louis’ 2021 second-round pick. The Kings will not retain any of Martinez’ salary.
Tuesday: The Vegas Golden Knights are trying to get in on the defenseman party, as Bob McKenzie of TSN reports they are working on a deal that would see Alec Martinez arrive from the Los Angeles Kings. In return, McKenzie believes the Kings would receive a package of two second-round picks. The deal has not been completed yet, and may not be officially announced until tomorrow, even though Martinez will not play for Los Angeles this evening.
Martinez, unlike the other rental defensemen traded today, has another year left on his contract. He also carries a $4MM cap hit, meaning the Golden Knights would need to make some extra room by either sending down a player or having the Kings retain some of Martinez’ salary. That also could be the hold up in the deal, as by waiting another day they will open enough cap space to fit Martinez in without any salary retention. Vegas sent down Zach Whitecloud earlier today and sit with just 20 players on the roster.
The Golden Knights do have two second-round selections this season (their own and Pittsburgh’s) and three next year (their own, New Jersey’s and St. Louis’). They also have a desperate need for some help on defense if they are to compete in the Pacific Division, which is so tightly packed there is just two points between first and fifth. More specifically, the Golden Knights need a player who can quickly get the puck up to their talented forwards to take some pressure off Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore. While Martinez hasn’t had the same offensive impact the last few years in Los Angeles, he was once a staple on the team’s powerplay and has multiple 30+ point seasons.
The fact that he is signed for another season is also a huge bonus for the Golden Knights, who currently have three regulars in Nick Holden, Jonathon Merrill and Deryk Engelland set to become unrestricted free agents in the summer. Though Whitecloud, Nicolas Hague and Jimmy Schuldt all could be up in the NHL next year, Martinez gives Vegas another legitimate top-four option.
Over each of the past five seasons, Martinez has averaged at least 21 minutes a night for the Kings, playing in all situations. His versatility is maybe his best attribute, especially the fact that he has no problem playing the left or right side (despite being left-handed). That will certainly come in handy (pun intended) during a playoff run, as teams often deal with injuries on the back end.