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Ben Hutton Signing Points To More Upcoming Movement On The Blue Line

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Christmas came early for Ben Hutton as the veteran defenseman signed a two-year contract extension to remain with the Golden Knights. The trusty 7th defenseman and locker room treasure signed for just over the league minimum and locked his place on what has become a bit of a crowded blue line in Vegas.

This season, the Golden Knights have used nine different defensemen and there’s a case for each of them to be a part of the plans for the future.

Alex Pietrangelo and Zach Whitecloud are locked into Vegas through the next three seasons. Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb are each under contract for this year and next, and Nic Hague, Brayden Pachal, and Kaedan Korczak as restricted free agents remain under VGK control for the foreseeable future.

With Hutton, that’s eight defensemen all expected to be in the NHL next season trying to help the Golden Knights win another Stanley Cup.

So, where does that leave three-time Cup winner Alec Martinez?

Martinez’s contract ends after this season and the 36-year-old is still playing on the top pair for one of the best teams in the league. He’s fought through multiple injuries this year but when he’s healthy and available, he’s seeing close to 19 minutes a night on the Vegas blue line. He’s one of the first guys over the boards on the penalty kill and if you ask any Golden Knight they’ll surely tell you life is more fun with Martinez around rather than without him.

The first question for Martinez is going to be whether or not he wants to continue his career. He’s achieved just about everything possible in the sport and the injuries have started to pile up a bit on him over the past few years. So, walking away at this point does make sense. But, if he wants to continue, there’s no doubt his services will continue to be in demand.

If he does want to soldier on, the Golden Knights are going to have to make a difficult decision, and probably sooner rather than later. Martinez’s $5.25 million contract is coming off the books next season one way or another. There’s certainly going to be space to re-sign him if the Golden Knights choose, but they also have to hand out new contracts to Jonathan Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson, and Michael Amadio which will likely eat up most, if not all, of the available cap space.

The challenge for Vegas is that they probably shouldn’t wait until the summer to fill in the final pieces on the blue line. If they simply wait it out, they will likely end up sacrificing at least one asset for nothing. Re-sign Martinez and it means either Korczak or Pachal (or both) will have to hit waivers. Or, stick with the younger guys, and a three-time Cup winner and locker room leader walks away.

Instead, the Golden Knights may look to make a move that helps both this season and next. If Martinez is not in the plans beyond this season, trading him at the upcoming deadline could make sense. His $5.25 million cap hit would create space to allow Vegas a chance to bring in a player who will be in the plans beyond this season.

The Golden Knights have never been afraid to make an unpopular cap-saving salary cap move. With Ben Hutton signed up for the next few years, that might be exactly what’s in store next.

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12 Comments

  1. NHhell

    Martinez is the type of dman that Toronto would be interested in.

    That would open up more Vgk cap room to acquire another player or 2 at the deadline.

  2. JB

    Would hate to see Marty finish out his career elsewhere. But, I’m not sure how much longer his body can hold up. He’s a warrior who puts his body in front of shots all game long. IF they could make a trade that benefited us elsewhere , then it might make sense.

    • Emmaneul

      “Would hate to see Marty finish out his career elsewhere“.
      No offense but he will be remembered as an LA King….

      This is a good example of why its hard to repeat. The team feels they owe the player something and overpay/overterm them. He will cettainly be paid on the market but with a short term.

    • Emmanuel

      My original reply was deleted for some reason.

      Anyways you cant keep everybody, but I think its a bad idea to trade him before the playoffs as he is EXTRA valuble in the playoffs.

      As liked and respected he is as a Knight, he will remembered as a Kings player due to the 2014 “Goal”.

      • TS

        In Vegas, he’ll be remembered as one of the most fearless Shot- blockers EVER! ( and the monster face slash from that puck he got hit with).. We Love the guy!!

  3. knights fan in minny

    martini would be a huge loss he is a warrior

  4. ThG

    marty is having a terrible year, multiple injuries, he’s slowed down considerably on D. Keeping him would be for sentimental reasons only; unless he somehow miraculously turnsaround things in second half.

    Meanwhile, for the idiots on forum. There is no politics in hockey, nope. Never was. (get the blinders off your silly brains)

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nhl/we-have-an-order-from-the-president-nhl-agent-reveals-alleged-message-for-russian-players-by-vladimir-putin/ar-AA1m3VXi?ocid=msedgntp&pc=LCTS&cvid=b105f575eab94d11b6036b7e34808e3a&ei=36

  5. Emmanuel

    The Cup winning blue line will most certainly be considered the franchise’s greatest ever and one of the best ever up there with Anaheims 2007 defense & those great Devils blue lines of the 90s. I guess you can throw the Canadiens 70s team but I didnt see them live.

  6. TS

    Help me out here
    ..if Martinez’ lifespan and cumulative injuries are nearing the end of his career, why would another team pay the Big bucks for him? Would we get the return of investment on him, if we traded now? Wouldn’t we end up taking a loss on him? He can’t be that much of a liability to us that we need to shed his contract for what could be his final year!
    He’s still an asset, in my view!

    • Jerry King

      Another team would only be picking up his contract for the remainder of the season. A contending team with a hole in their defense might be interested. The benefit to Vegas would be getting something in return rather than letting Martinez walk away at the end of the season and geting nothing in return.

  7. Mike StG

    Trading Marty makes no sense at all, and there’s about a 1% chance that happens. That 1% would be if the wheels fall off and they’re going to miss the playoffs anyway.

    The only thing that could possibly be gained by trading him is obtaining a draft pick (and they don’t need picks). To trade him in-season to upgrade at D is a ridiculous gamble. And why would they risk upsetting team chemistry even for that remote possibility? He can play the season out to the end of his contract and there is NO impact to next year’s cap. Then if they want to re-sign him for less they can try to work it out. They need to make room for dmen in the pipeline, so it’s a natural progression.

    Vegas is all in with this group to repeat. If they want to upgrade up front they can either use the available TD cap or trade a current roster forward and picks. They really only need a middle six winger with some offensive skills.

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