The Vegas Golden Knights have made their first major move of trade deadline season, acquiring left-handed defenseman Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings. In exchange, the Golden Knights will surrender their 2020 and 2021 second-round draft picks.
This trade has been in the works for at least 24 hours, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported yesterday that the two parties were working on a deal. Now official, the Golden Knights have fortified their defensive unit for the playoff push and a season beyond. Martinez is signed through the 2020-21 season, carrying with him a $4 million salary cap hit.
There’s no question that the Golden Knights themselves have playoff experience, as they have reached the postseason each of their two seasons so far, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season as an expansion franchise. But in adding Martinez, they add an additional 64 games of postseason experience. More importantly, they add a man who has had his name carved on the Stanley Cup twice already (in 2012 and 2014), and who scored the Cup-winning overtime goal in 2014.
Martinez will fortify a left side that currently features Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb, along with Jon Merrill. Martinez also brings some relief on special teams, especially on the penalty kill, where the Golden Knights have struggled this season, ranking 22nd in the league. Martinez ranks 21st in the league amongst defensemen who have played 70-plus minutes on the penalty kill, with an expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 18.81. His penalty kill Corsi for percentage (CF%) is also high, ranking 23rd at 17.16 percent.
Kings Continue to Rebuild
The Kings, on the other hand, continue to rebuild their roster at the tail end of a decade of competitiveness and playoff success. They’ve already made two similar sell-off moves this month, trading Tyler Toffoli to the Vancouver Canucks earlier this week, and moving goaltender Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 5. Of those four (including Martinez), all but Campbell were part of at least the 2014 Stanley Cup-winning team.
According to TSN Hockey’s Trade Bait List, Martinez is the last major asset the Kings might move this season, though forward Trevor Lewis (ranked 42nd by TSN) could still be traded. Expect general manager Rob Blake and team president Luc Robitaille to keep the phone lines open though, as they will likely entertain any offer that can help build the future for their team.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.