Alec Martinez’s upper body injury is “getting better,” he said before going for a skate after his teammates practiced Friday. When he joins them for a full-contact practice is anyone’s guess, however. Martinez and Kings coach Darryl Sutter each said there’s no timetable for the defenseman’s return from the injured reserve list. Martinez was injured in the Kings’ victory Feb. 11 over the St. Louis Blues.
With three defensemen sidelined because of injuries, rookie Jake Muzzin will get another chance to play, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. Muzzin will take Alec Martinez’s spot in the lineup for Friday’s home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets after Martinez suffered an upper-body injury in Monday’s victory over the Blues in St. Louis.
Alec Martinez and Brad Richardson were among 23 NHL players who elected arbitration today.
Richardson was tendered a qualifying offer (along with Marc-Andre Cliche, Rich Clune, Corey Elkins and Trevor Lewis) while Martinez was headed for restricted free agency.
The deadline for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration notification is 2 p.m. (Pacific Time) Wednesday. Hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20 to August 4. Martinez and Richardson can avoid arbitration by reaching a contract agreement before then.
In the meantime, expect the following facts and figures to be dissected by both sides:
After appearing in four NHL games last year, Martinez was recalled from AHL Manchester on Nov. 23 and seized the Kings’ sixth defenseman job. His five goals matched Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty for second among Kings defensemen; he also had a plus-11 rating, second only to Doughty among blueliners.
The 23-year-old Martinez earned $662,500 in the NHL last season, according to capgeek.com.
Richardson, who can play all three forward positions, had seven goals and 19 points in 68 games last season while averaging 11:45 in a utility role. He was among the regulars on the penalty kill, a role he could expect to reprise with PK specialist Michal Handzus playing in San Jose.
In the Kings’ six-game playoff series against the Sharks, Richardson found success on a line with Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds, matching Clifford’s five points for the team lead.
The 26-year-old made $900,000 last season according to CapGeek.
The Kings had never swept a four-game road trip before Tuesday, but managed to seal the deal against another Western Conference opponent in Nashville.
Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves on a night when the Predators outshot the Kings 32-18. Bernier improved to 4-1-0 against the Predators. He’s never faced another team more often in his young career, and Terry Murray will keep calling his number against Nashville so long as this continues.
“He worked hard to find the puck,” Murray said of Bernier. “He was really on top of the crease square, and absorbed a lot of those pucks. Strong game.”
“I think it’s just the type of team that gives me a lot of action, keeps me in the game,” Bernier said, and that was certainly true Tuesday. The Kings made more mistakes than Nashville — Murray couldn’t be happy with his team’s 17 giveaways — but also took advantage of their opponents’ miscues.
Anze Kopitar, Alec Martinez, Wayne Simmonds and Dustin Brown scored goals, the latter coming into an empty net with 1:02 left in the game.
Long Beach native Jonathon Blum scored the Preds’ only goal, a long blast that deflected off a Kings player (it looked on TV like Jack Johnson) in front of the net and tied the game 1-1. It was the second goal of Blum’s 12-game career.
Some notes and observations:
First, the game:
The Kings dominated for 50 minutes before taking a string of penalties that allowed Colorado to score three goals — on its final three shots — to make the final score look closer than the game actually was.
“We definitely can’t be taking penalties that late in the game,” Drew Doughty said. “You see what happens, they almost caught up and took it to OT and that’s not something we want to be doing. We’ve got to learn from it, but [we're] happy with the game.”
The Avs were outshot 42-17 en route to losing for the 14th time in their last 16 games.
Anze Kopitar scored for the third time in his last three games, officially ending his drought. Alec Martinez, Doughty and Jarret Stoll all connected on long shots, the latter two coming on the power play.
Jonathan Quick made 14 saves for the victory. He got burned when he mishandled the puck behind the net — or miscommunicated with his defense, or both — which led to a Paul Stastny goal in the final minute.
The Kings’ 42 shots on goal set a new season high, and the 17 shots against were two off a season low. Considering the Kings spent 13:36 on the power play — almost a quarter of the game — it’s no surprise.
“We made it interesting at the end just through getting too casual, a little careless with some plays at critical times at the game,” head coach Terry Murray said. “You go into the third period with that kind of scenario you want to make sure you’re able to lock it down. Good teams do. You don’t get reckless or careless and start taking some penalties, especially the high sticking penalties. … We have to clean that part of it up right away.”
Now, about Sturm getting claimed off waivers by Washington and its implications:
Don tracked down prospect Alec Martinez, a defenseman who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Kings, for an interview. The Kings think highly of Martinez, who was a fourth-round draft pick out of Miami (Ohio) University last year. Martinez’s hockeydb.com profile gives his college stats. Enjoy the interview…
DOB – 7-26-87
Miami/Ohio (NCAA): 10 goals, 20 assists (30 points), 42 PIM (final 2008 stats)
Accolades: Named Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s Best Defensive Defenseman for 2008.
From Inside College Hockey.com:
12/20/07: Martinez does it all — he’s an extremely reliable defender.
3/14/08: Martinez continually exudes a strong presence at both ends of the ice. The junior notched 26 points on seven goals and 19 assists, all while maintaining a gaudy +26 plus-minus rating that many blueliners sacrifice in exchange for those kind of offensive numbers.
Alec Martinez, a fourth-round draft pick last year, has signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Kings. He’s an under-the-radar prospect, but the Kings are quietly optimistic about his potential and view him as a future NHL defenseman. Martinez, 20, just completed his junior season at Miami of Ohio. Here’s the press release from the Kings…