After the regular season and playoffs he had with the Golden Knights in 2020-21, it seems almost unfathomable for Vegas to let Alec Martinez walk away for nothing.
In the playoffs, he was arguably the most consistent player on the roster, led the postseason in blocks despite playing fewer games than two other teams, was VGK’s most dangerous weapon on the power play, and averaged more than 22 minutes a night. Oh, and he did this all while playing on a broken foot that happened a few games before the playoffs even started.
A day after his 34th birthday, Martinez inked a three-year deal worth $15.75 million. That means he is now contractually tied, for $5.25 million per year, to the Golden Knights through 2023-24, when he will play the entire season at the age of 37-years-old.
Currently in the NHL, there are nine defensemen making at least $5 million over the age of 33. They are Brent Burns, Shea Weber, Kris Letang, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Seabrook, Mark Giordano, Johnny Boychuk, Ducan Keith, and Anton Stralman. Weber is reportedly out for the entirety of next season and his career is in jeopardy, Seabrook and Boychuk, and didn’t play a single game last year, and Vlasic, Stralman, and Keith were each shells of themselves, two of the three being moved in cap relief trades this offseason. Heck, even Giordano, who was good last year, was left unprotected in the Expansion Draft and was ultimately selected by the Seattle Kraken.
Simply put, it takes an ultra-rare specimen to succeed in the NHL as a defenseman at the age of 34, let alone 35, or 36, which the Golden Knights just committed to with Martinez.
Last year, Martinez posted some gaudy numbers in his 12th season in the NHL. He averaged 22:34 of ice time per game, scored nine goals and added 23 assists, blocked 162 shots, and added an amazing 7.2 point shares to a team that nearly won the President’s Trophy. Plus, he did it in a shortened 56-game season.
That was all at the age of 33. So, we wondered, how many d-men have met any of those criteria at the age of 34, 35, or 36 in the past decade (since 2010-11)? We head to the Stathead! Hockey-Reference.com’s incredible tool that allows us to easily look up stuff like this.
We’ll start with time on ice. Of course, last year was a truncated season in which Martinez played in 53 of the 56 games amassing 1196 minutes of ice time. Doing that math, that comes out to about 1600 minutes in a regular 82 game season. So, how many defensemen have reached this after the age of 34?
At least 34 – 55 of 272 (20.2%)
At least 35 – 38 of 194 (19.6%)
At least 36 – 22 of 130 (16.9%)
At least 34 – 166 of 272 (61.0%)
At least 35 – 116 of 194 (59.8%)
At least 36 – 73 of 130 (56.2%)
Martinez was an offensive weapon for the Golden Knights, especially on the power play where he chipped in six of PP goals. His total was 32 points in 53 games which projects to an impressive 47 points in 78 games over an 82 game season.
At least 34 – 12 of 272 (4.4%)
At least 35 – 7 of 194 (3.6%)
At least 36 – 4 of 130 (3.1%)
At least 34 – 41 of 272 (15.1%)
At least 35 – 27 of 194 (13.9%)
At least 36 – 19 of 130 (14.6%)
At least 34 – 86 of 272 (31.7%)
At least 35 – 63 of 194 (32.5%)
At least 36 – 42 of 130 (32.3%)