At the start of NHL training camps last year, Radek Martinek was invited to try and compete for a spot on a roster. He made the team, singing a one-year deal with the New York Islanders, the team who originally drafted him back in 1999. This year, Martinek finds himself in the exact situation, with the exact same team, the Islanders, as he was offered a tryout and camp invite with the club earlier this week. And much like last year, Martinek will again be competing for the sixth defenseman spot.
Martinek, 36, has appeared in 473 career NHL games, including 466 with the Islanders. The other seven games Martinek has played in the league were with the Columbus Blue Jackets, during the 2011-12 season, which he scored just one goal for his only point that year. Martinek has 25 goals and 82 assists for 107 career points. He’s also appeared in 11 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with the Islanders.
In total, Martinek included, the Islanders have 19 total defenseman in camp trying to make the club. The Islanders already have some of their top defensemen locked up for this year, including Lubomir Visnovksy, Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald, Thomas Hickey, Brian Strait, Matt Carkner and Joe Finlay. Also competing for a spot on the blueline will be Griffin Reinhart, Calvin de Haan and Scott Mayfield, among other young hopefuls. So Martinek has a lot of competition on his hands for one of the available roster spots for this year.
The only knock against Martinek during his career has been his injury problems. Somehow, someway, Martinek manages to have a season cut short due to some kind of injury. When healthy, Martinek can bring a lot to the table. He has been with the Islanders for a long time now, he knows the team and the system. He has been used in quite a few situations on the ice during the course of a year. I think his experience, and familiarity with the team, will give him an edge over a lot of the rookie defensemen in camp.
There is still a good chance that Martinek will make the team. The question then becomes, how much playing time is he going to get? Chances are, he is going to be in a rotation with Carkner, Finlay, Hickey and Strait. This is a good problem for the Islanders to have: An abundance of talent going out for one position.