Editor's note: This article is part of an ongoing series in which Kevin Kurz will highlight a different Sharks player every day leading up to the start of training camp.
Name/Position: Paul Martin, D
2015-16 cap hit/contract: $4.85 million, signed through 2018-19
2014-15 year in review: In 74 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Paul Martin posted 3 goals, 17 assists and 20 penalty minutes. He was paired mostly with the offensively talented Kris Letang, and it was a success. Last season, when on the ice together, Martin and Letang posted a goals-for percentage of 63.3 percent.
The Sharks agreed to a four-year contract with Martin on the first day of free agency. The Minneapolis native has made it to the playoffs in all 10 seasons he’s been in the NHL.
2015-16 outlook: The Sharks are banking on Martin having the same kind of effect on Brent Burns as he did with Letang, as coach Peter DeBoer mentioned immediately after the signing that he envisions those two together. If Burns has another offensively strong season while cutting down on the mental mistakes in his defensive game, the Martin-Burns pair could thrive.
Martin will also be tasked with improving the Sharks’ penalty kill, which finished 25th in the NHL last season. “This guy’s been a staple on everybody’s penalty kill since he entered the league in New Jersey a decade ago,” DeBoer said on July 1. “[It’s] not the reason we signed him, but another thing about his game was his ability to kill penalties.”
There are pros and cons to Martin’s age, as signing a 34-year-old to a four-year contract has its risks. Martin missed most of the 2009-10 season with an arm injury, while leg and hand injuries limited him in 2013-14, so he has somewhat of a dubious recent history when it comes to being hurt.
On the other hand, the Sharks’ defense core was bereft of veteran leadership last season after Dan Boyle moved on last summer. Scott Hannan was the elder statesman of the group, but he simply wasn’t an everyday player anymore. Martin is, and he will immediately be the guy with the most credibility in the dressing room among the blueliners. When certain guys need a kick in the rear, Martin should be able to deliver it.