On May 1, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Swiss defenceman Christian Marti from Geneva-Servette to an entry-level contract. The 22-year-old Buelach-native played the past two season in Switzerland and spent the 12/13 season with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL. He is going to compete for a roster spot with the Flyers in September when camp starts to become the second Swiss defender on Philadelphia’s blue line next to Mark Streit.
Who Is Marti?
Flyers fans might just wonder now: Who the heck is the Swiss defender their team signed out of the Swiss league? Is he someone to be excited about or just a depth player? Does he have NHL-potential or is he going to end up playing in the AHL? While most Flyers fans don’t have the foggiest notion on who Marti is, most Swiss hockey fans are as surprised by the Marti signing as Flyer fans. Marti had only eight points in 32 regular season games with Geneva-Servette last season, a team coached and managed by former AHLer Chris McSorley, who is the brother of former NHL-tough guy Marty McSorley.
NHL: Christian Marti takes part in the Philadelphia Flyers' rookie camp http://t.co/R7sgHwFOyP
— swisshockeynews.ch (@SwissHockeyNews) September 3, 2015
Marti wasn’t very present on the scoring sheet and rather played an unremarkable and solid defensive game the past two season with the Swiss team. Based on his playing style his signing therefore came as quite a surprise as usually only Swiss players with solid scoring numbers and a frequent score sheet presence are signed by NHL-teams without being drafted before.
Returning to North America
Marti was selected in the first round at 49th overall of the 2012 CHL Import Draft by the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. He started his North American adventure and joined them in the upcoming season where he had 14 points in 46 games. However, he was overlooked at the draft and therefore decided to return to his home country of Switzerland to play for Geneva-Servette. Flyers Director of Scouting Chris Pryor can’t believe Marti remained undrafted: “I saw him play last year and asked myself how could that happen? I don’t know how we overlooked him at that time, I just know that we like him now”.
That he ends up returning to North America and particularly to Philadelphia three years after his stint with Blainville-Boisbriand doesn’t fully surprise though. Besides fellow Swiss defender Mark Streit there is another connection between former Amada Marti and the Flyers. Ian Laperriere, currently assistant coach with the Flyers, has a history in the Amrada’s ownership and former NHL player Joel Bouchard is the president of the Armada. Bouchard was a Flyers development camp instructor. Additionally, recent Flyers signing Danick Martel used to be Marti’s team mate with the Armada during his season in the QMJHL.
Combination of Size and Mobility
Marti’s biggest asset is the combination of size and mobility he brings to the game. He is listed at 6”3 and 209 lbs but still shows good mobility, something that isn’t often seen with defenders at that size. He is a stay-at-home defender who can be used to shut down the opponent’s best line as he plays a very effective own zone game.
He likes to get involved physically and uses his long reach very well to poke check effectively. He is a ruthless defender along the boards and never backs off in puck battles. Marti seems to have some offensive upside but this is an area he still needs to develop. He likes to keep his game simple and he doesn’t consider himself a “fancy” guy. In a recent interview with the FlyersTV, he said that he wants to play a game similar to the one of Stefan Kronwall.
To see the full interview with Christian Marti, click here!
AHL or NHL?
Based on his playing style and experience from his QMJHL days, it is believed that he won’t need too much transition time to the North American style of hockey. But is he an NHL or AHL-player? It would be a surprise if he makes the Flyers opening night roster straight out of camp, considering the current defencemen pairings. So to answer the title’s question we probably need to await his first games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to see his progress.
There isn't a lot of space for him unless he proves he belongs quick, but I'd love to watch Swiss D-man Christian Marti with phantoms.
— Josh Bright (@DaPriceIsBright) July 15, 2015
He definitely has the upside to become a solid shut down defender at AHL level but it remains very doubtful if his strengths are good enough to make it to the big league. I personally doubt it, especially as you have defencemen prospects like Ivan Provorov, Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Sanheim emerging for the Flyers.