The New York Islanders have acquired Matt Martin from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goaltending prospect Eamon McAdam. No salary was retained in the transaction, meaning the Islanders will have to carry the full $2.5MM cap hit for the next two seasons. Interestingly though, Martin was paid a $1.5MM signing bonus on July 1st for what was already a front-loaded contract, meaning New York will actually only pay $2.5MM in actual cash for Martin’s work through 2019-20.
Martin, 29, was pushed out of the Maple Leafs lineup this season due to the emergence of Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, playing in only 50 games and watching through the entire first round of the playoffs. Though he was extremely well-liked in the dressing room, there was simply no spot for Martin on Toronto’s roster going forward, and the team desperately needed cap relief for next season when Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander will all be on their next contracts. $2.5MM in cap space isn’t insignificant, especially when the team didn’t have to give up a single asset to rid themselves of it.
In fact they acquired McAdam, who was originally picked in the third round by the Islanders but hasn’t been able to secure a job even at the AHL level. Coming to Toronto he may have a similar problem, as the team already has Garret Sparks, Calvin Pickard and Kasimir Kaskisuo under contract. One of the first two may be moved up to the NHL should the team believe they can help more than current backup Curtis McElhinney, but there isn’t a lot of room on the Toronto Marlies either way. Beyond this year, the team also owns the rights to NCAA goaltender Joseph Woll, who is headed back to Boston College but could be ready for professional action in 2019-20. It’s not clear where McAdam lands in that group, though he could be loaned to another AHL team like Kaskisuo was last season.
With this deal the Islanders will be able to reunite a line of Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck that was once considered the “best fourth line in the NHL” though that is certainly not guaranteed. Over the last few days the team has also signed bottom-six forwards Leo Komarov and Tom Kuhnhackl, while they still have Ross Johnston and others that could compete for spots. If that trio is put back together, it will be interesting to see if they can be as effective as they once were at pinning defenders in with physicality.
Martin struggled to find ice time in Toronto this season so the move makes sense, and opens up another roster spot for a young player or free agent acquisition. The Maple Leafs currently have some openings on their fourth line, though new faces like Josh Jooris or Par Lindholm could fill those roles. Either way, it does seem like fresh-faced GM Kyle Dubas has a clear plan for the Maple Leafs going forward—one that no longer included Martin.