The Colorado Avalanche made a lot of moves this past offseason in trades and free agency. One move that went largely unnoticed by many was when the Avalanche signed Norwegian power forward, Andreas Martinsen. At the time, this signing was seen as little more than one that could bolster the depth of the Avalanche system, there was very little expectation that Martinsen would be spending any meaningful time in the NHL. That all changed in early November when the Avalanche recalled the young Norwegian from the AHL, and they haven’t looked back since.
What Andreas Martinsen Brings
The first thing that you notice about Andreas Martinsen is him imposing size. Martinsen stands 6’3″ and is 220 lbs., making him an intimidating presence on the ice. That being said, it’s one thing to look intimidating and something else completely to actually be intimidating. Martinsen has wasted little time establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with whenever he steps on the ice. Martinsen has used his size and strength to make an impression on opponents, as he did to Barret Jackman in Colorado’s victory in Nashville.
Martinsen’s physical game is easily the most important part of his game. The thing that will determine exactly how successful he can be will be how far he is willing to push the limit of his physical play. Martinsen has the potential to become the type of player that impacts games and possibly playoff series by being willing to walk the line with his physical play. From time to time that will also mean he’ll have to answer the call for a hit, even if it is completely clean. This is something he has already shown the ability to do when he went toe-to-toe with long-time NHL tough guy, Chris Neil.
Now hitting and fighting is all well and good, but in today’s NHL everybody needs to be able to actually play the game, as well. This means that he needs to be able to skate and handle the puck if he wants to last. Martinsen may look like one of those big bruisers that is about as graceful on the ice as a giraffe, but looks do not tell the whole story here. Martinsen is an excellent skater with a powerful stride; his acceleration is very good and he possesses NHL speed. He isn’t the most agile creature on the ice, but for a guy that is as huge as he is, his agility is more than acceptable.
The other thing he possesses is deceptively soft hands. Martinsen isn’t going to wow anybody with moves like Matt Duchene, but his hands are more than enough to compliment his power game. Martinsen has demonstrated this a couple of times in recent games against the Minnesota Wild, freezing a defenseman to make a power move to the net:
and the Nashville Predators where he picked a puck out of the air to score the game-winning goal.
How Will He Be Successful
Andreas Martinsen has shown that he possesses all the skills necessary to be a successful NHL player, but he’s still far from a finished product. Martinsen still has a lot to learn on the defensive side of the game and can be caught out of position or just chasing the puck from time to time. His Corsi numbers are far from impressive but I’m confident these will improve the more experience he gains in the NHL. Improving his play in his own zone is going to go a long way towards ensuring his success as an NHL player and, at this point of his career, the best thing for him is just to keep getting more experience. The more he plays, the more he will see the game at NHL speed and the better he will be able to adapt his instincts.
In basically every other aspect of the game, Andreas Martinsen needs to just continue to play the way he has been playing. He’s a big player that needs to play a simple, physical game. He needs to be the guy that players think twice about going into the corners with; he needs to be tenacious and punishing on the forecheck; he needs to get to the front of the net and force multiple players to deal with him; and he needs to continue to be successful playing “ugly hockey.” If Martinsen can do all these things, count on him being an impact player for the Colorado Avalanche for years to come.
I’m a Denver native who has been a fan of the Avalanche since they came to town and a fan of the game before that. I started writing my own blog a couple years ago before moving to Bleacher Report and becoming a Featured Columnist there. You can also find me the Burgundy Brigade Podcast