Defensemen take time to develop into useful players and often the best ones emerge as quality players on their second or even third organization. How frustrating it must have been for Toronto to watch Jason Smith as an Oiler, after giving up on him just before the lights went on. Defensemen can look exposed one night and brilliant the next, spend a weekend in the penalty box in December and look brilliant in a January recall.
Martin Marincin looked like one million dollars early in this OKC season. Why? First, he was playing alongside the brilliant Justin Schultz and secondly he was hitting the jailbreak button in a very timely fashion. In the first two months of the season, Marincin looked like he was a little too good for the AHL:
- October: 7, 2-2-4 +5
- November: 11, 1-6-7 +7
- Total: 18, 3-8-11 +12
In December, Marincin’s sorties began to cost goals against and coach Todd Nelson moved him down the depth chart after some struggles during that month:
- December: 10, 0-2-2 -4
- Nelson: One thing about Marty, he is an interesting guy. He logs a lot of ice for us for a first year guy. I know a lot of people are excited about him, but he is playing with probably the best player in the league in Justin Schultz. We’ve got to keep things in perspective here. Marty has a long ways to go. He’s still, I think, a couple of years away. He has to mature physically as a man. You mentioned about the language skills; I think that’s important when as a coach you try to communicate with your players sometimes things get lost in translation. We have to learn from that as a coaching staff and we have to really slow things down and make sure Marty understands. He makes some fantastic plays out there, and then other times he’ll have brain cramps. That happens when you’re a young defenceman. Marty, everybody’s excited about him, but once again we have to be very patient with him because he has a long way to go as well.
During January, Marincin has been playing third pairing (often with Nathan Deck) and the numbers have improved:
- January 11, 1-1-2 +3
And that suggests he is finding the range for his current level of ability. Marincin’s season should be viewed as a positive overall, not just for the boxcars (39, 4-11-15 +11 has him second in scoring among active Barons) but also in terms of good health and development. The Oilers have some nice blue under 25 in the NHL, but the one thing we know about defensemen is you can never have enough of them.
Marincin’s spot on the depth chart (probably 10th, behind the 8 NHLers plus Fedun and Teubert) means he may get a cup of coffee this season in the show, but his NHL debut is more likely to happen in 2013-14. He’ll be one of the blue (along with Fedun, Teubert, Brandon Davidson, possibly Alex Plante) expected to join with newcomers like Oscar Klefbom, Martin Gernat, David Musil and Kyle Bigos to form the nucleus of the Barons defense.
It’s been a difficult transition for Marincin, but with the acknowledgement that the early success was followed by times of trial, he seems to have settled in over the last month or so as a pro defender. The words of coach Nelson are the words of wisdown here: excited about Marincin, patience is the key.
(Marincin photo courtesy Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).