The Pittsburgh Penguins will be heavily represented at the Sochi Olympics, sending seven players in total to participate — two for Team Canada in Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin to Russia, Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta for Finland, and Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin representing Team USA.
You can find Brooks Orpik’s player profile here, and now is the time to talk about the only other Penguins player that will represent Team USA at this edition of the Olympics: Paul Martin.
Martin, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound defenseman from Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be appearing (barring injury in the Penguins’ final game this week) in his first Winter Olympics, having been selected for both the 2006 and 2010 Olympics previously. He didn’t see any action in 2006 as a young defenseman and missed the 2010 Olympics due to an upper-body injury.
Being forced to sit back and watch some of your countrymen try to win a medal is something that does not come easy for anyone, so Martin will certainly come into the games with a hunger that not many other players on the roster can match.
Martin, a three-year member of the University of Minnesota Men’s Ice Hockey Team, helped the Golden Gophers to two NCAA Frozen Four appearances, tallying 20 goals and 77 assists in 127 career games. Prior to his senior year, Martin left the college ranks for the NHL, having been drafted in the second round of the 2000 NHL Amateur Draft.
Martin would go on to begin his professional playing career with the New Jersey Devils, making his NHL debut during the 2003-04 season. This came after appearing in 11 games in the Swiss NLA during the same season.
Martin has only played professionally for two NHL teams — the aforementioned Devils and his current team, the Penguins. Martin was signed to a five-year, $25-million contract by the Penguins as an unrestricted free agent following the 2009-10 season. The deal proved to be lucrative for both parties as Martin has been a durable and productive addition to the Penguins’ defensive corps over the last three seasons, as well as the 2013-14 season to date.
Offensively speaking, Martin is the type of guy that will score 3-6 goals per season and add 20+ assists … if he can stay healthy. Obviously, his 2009-10 season with the Devils was cut short by a forearm issue, but he has sustained some injuries in the last two seasons. A broken hand in 2012-13 that caused him to miss 11 games, a the fractured tibia in November 2013 sidelined him for 20-plus.
Returning to the lineup on January 20, Martin has been averaging north of 20 minutes per game and has been a +1 in February, so this is a good sign for Team USA.
Martin will bring an above-average puck handling presence to the rush and potentially the power play for Team USA. For the Penguins, he’s mostly been part of the second power play unit, but he is quite capable of disbursing the puck and evening racking up some points if given the opportunity.
Much like Orpik, if Team USA is to be successful in their pursuit of a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics over the next couple of weeks, Martin will be a key player, especially considering the larger European ice surface. If Martin can manage to stay on the plus side while adding a few assists while chewing up some ice time, he will have been a positive addition to this team.