Toronto Maple Leafs: What will happen to Matt Martin?

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 25: Matt Martin
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 25: Matt Martin /

Due to a combination of factors, there is a very good chance the Toronto Maple Leafs will move Matt Martin before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

This season has brought with it a new experience for Matt Martin. In the process, it may well allude to his future with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Over the course of the previous seven seasons, Martin has only missed 25 of a possible 540 games . And 14 of those came in the first of those seven campaigns (2010-11).

However, after being involved in all but two of the Leafs’ first 49 games this season, the winger hasn’t played since. Including Wednesday night’s 3-2 shootout win over the Nashville Predators, he has been a healthy scratch for seven consecutive contests.

In the process, speculation has started, indicating Martin could well be traded sometime between now and Feb. 26. As indicated by Elliotte Friedman in his most recent 31 thoughts column, he could be moved to create some roster flexibility.

The Leafs are in an interesting position where they have the maximum number of contracts allowed (50), while also being in excellent health. As a result, something has to give.

As we discussed earlier this week, Josh Leivo has been a healthy scratch ever since his last appearance on Dec. 31. This is why he has essentially given the Leafs an ultimatum to either put him back in the lineup or trade him.

There is also the impending return of Nikita Soshnikov to consider, once he has completed his conditioning stint with the Marlies. He is no longer waiver exempt, while also having a clause in his contract that allows him to return to the KHL if he is not on an NHL roster.

In short, you have to figure Soshnikov will be back on the Leafs’ team as soon as he is cleared. This is another reason why Martin could well be on his way out of Toronto.

With the 28-year-old’s recent run of healthy scratches, it’s possible Mike Babcock has been experimenting to see how the team performs without his influence. In that respect, it’s worth noting they’ve won six of the seven games without him.

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However, there is a case to be made for Martin, just because of his reputation as an elite body checker and physical presence. During the 2014-15 campaign, he set a single season NHL record with 382 checks.

Unfortunately for the Windsor, Ontario native, he is no longer getting as much opportunity to exert his influence. He had a career-low 8:54 minutes per game last season, and his average ice time is even lower in 2017-18.

Even Martin’s contract should not be an issue for any interested teams. He is in the second season of a four-year, $10 million deal, and Friedman notes the Leafs would keep money to help him find a new home.

In theory, it’s always useful to have a player like Martin on your roster. However, due to a perfect storm of circumstances, the indications are he will be leaving Southern Ontario sooner than later.

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What would you do with Martin? Should the Toronto Maple Leafs trade him, or is there someone else who you would move instead? Regardless, what is your opinion of the winger’s time with the Buds? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.