Jake (Jacob) Martin
2020-21 Team: USNTDP Juniors (USHL) #18
Date of Birth: March 18, 2003
Place of Birth: White Bear Lake, MN, USA
Ht: 6-foot Wt: 190 pounds
Position: Right Defenseman
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
Jake Martin is an average-sized defenseman with outstanding poise and high-level defensive abilities. He compensates for his lack of reach with extremely polished defensive positioning, both with his body and his stick. He disrupts the opposing play more often than not, sending his opponents back to square one with each intervention. He is constantly aware of his surroundings, reading each player intently as they enter the zone and start the cycle. On top of his high-level awareness, he shows an impressive ability to separate players from pucks and turn a defensive play into an offensive play with a quick pass to an open teammate.
Martin’s strengths are in the low-pace situations, when rushes are more complex and the play is much less north-south. He can sometimes find himself short of breath or a stride late due to average skating mechanics, especially when facing the rush with his back to his goaltender or when he needs to pivot quickly to retrieve pucks deep in the defensive zone. Skating is often a work-in-progress at this age, but there are prospects available with much more sound mechanics than Martin’s, which explains his 211th rank amongst North American skaters according to the NHL Central Scouting Bureau; defensemen with both average size and average skating are not often coveted by teams looking for top-four potential in the top end of this draft.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
However, Martin’s defensive prowess might be among the top five of his class, and his right shot will add to his value on draft day as teams run out of available players at the top of their lists. If Martin’s skating ability improves, his offensive output should as well, as his passing, puck receptions, shooting and stickhandling are all decent or better. He does not have the high-level skating needed to join the rush as a fourth forward, nor the agility to evade defenders on breakouts and zone entries with regularity, but such skills could show up later on if his skating mechanics are polished up.
Jake Martin – NHL Draft Projection
Martin’s name has shown up more and more in the scouting sphere as the season went on, which culminated when independent scout Will Scouch presented a video report highlighting his defensive abilities near the end of March, which will be linked further below. As a result, he has shown up on draft boards more often starting in April, with both Zator and Forbes placing him in their top 100 (71st and 96th respectively) since the video aired. If teams have paid attention to his defensive game, he could show up in the second round, as the prospect pool dries up and teams hone in on their needs.
“This is a selfless player that really plays solid defense-first [hockey] and doesn’t really put too much on his plate offensively.” – Will Scouch, Scouching (YouTube)
“Martin shines in the defensive end of the ice, and is particularly adept at keeping play from the zone entirely with potent defending through the middle-third.” – Joey Padmanabhan, EP Rinkside
- Defensive awareness
- Separation ability
- Body positioning in puck battles
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Skating speed
- Offensive involvement
As Jake Martin grows into his final product, he could very well surprise many scouts and end up as a solid, top-four defenseman with the right staff and surroundings. He is committed to one of the best NCAA programs in the University of Wisconsin, which will only help shape him into a decent NHLer. However, with the way Martin plays right now, he could find very good use as a bottom-pair shutdown defenseman with strong underlying numbers against controlled competition.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6/10, Defense – 8/10
Martin won a silver medal for Team USA at the U17 World Championships in 2019-20. He has no other awards or achievements so far.