By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks have signed Paul Martin to a four year deal, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN. The former Penguins defenseman was reportedly sought by a number of teams. A four year contract might be surprising for a 34-year old defenseman, but most teams overpay for the players they get on the first day of free agency. This is why the Sharks have not traditionally gone this route. Sharks GM Doug Wilson must feel that Martin is worth the risk.
Martin started his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils. After five seasons with New Jersey, he was moved mid-season to Pittsburgh where he was a mainstay on the blue line for another five years. Dan Rosen had Martin in his list of top 20 free agents at NHL.com, saying that he can be effective in many roles, including special teams and top pairing. Presumably, the Sharks will not require him to be on the top pair but that versatility certainly added to his value.
Last season, Martin came in 38th league-wide in average ice time, 33rd on the penalty kill and 70th on the power play. On his team, he was second in power play time, third short-handed and second in all ice time to Kris Letang. His defensive numbers suggest that he should be a reliable addition, at least for a couple more seasons.