MARTIN FILLING KEY ROLE, GAINING CONFIDENCE IN YEAR THREEFeb 15, 2019
When the Sharks originally signed Jon Martin as free agent out of the Western Hockey League in 2016, they saw a prototypical power forward. Big, mean, fast and skilled. A young Milan Lucic if you will.
In 2016-17, Martin’s rookie season, the Barracuda were loaded from top to bottom. 17 players from that team had played or have gone on to play in the NHL. So as green, wide-eyed rookie, Martin had trouble cracking the lineup, appearing in just 33 games between the ECHL and AHL. Following his rookie season, Martin dressed in 53 games with the Barracuda last year, totaling 11 points (four goals, seven assists). While he flashed a power-forward skill set, Martin failed to find the consistency needed to be an every-game player at the AHL level.
The consistency he displayed as a 20-year-old in 2015-16 when he scored 38 goals and added 31 assists in 66 games with the Swift Current Broncos.
This season, his third at the pro level, Martin has rounded his game out and become one of San Jose’s most affective and well rounder players, alongside leading scorer Alex True who’s been his center-ice man for most of the season.
Post-game comments from tonight’s first star, Jon Martin. pic.twitter.com/xpkhK4RJTf— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) January 10, 2019
“He’s got both parts of his game going. Before he’d be hammering guys but his offense wasn’t there, and other nights he’d be offensive but he’d forget about the physical side of his game,” said Barracuda Head Coach Roy Sommer. “Now he’s combined both and he’s playing with more confidence, he’s making more plays, he’s holding onto pucks, he’s getting his shot away, and he’s been a bit of a force for us.”
With more opportunity, Martin has gained more confidence, which has resulted in more results. Through 35 games, the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada native has already surpassed his goal, point and assist totals he had amassed in his first 60 career AHL games. Martin is seventh on the Barracuda in points (19), T-fifth in goals (9), T-ninth in assists (10), fourth in plus/minus (+14), and third in penalty minutes (46).
“It’s been quite the year for me… it was tough at the start but the biggest thing for me was getting the opportunity. I’ve worked hard these last couple of years and I haven’t seen a whole lot of opportunity and now I’m finally getting it and I’m trying to make the most of it.”
Martin’s breakout season can be attributed to the work he’s put in over the last two seasons.
“He’s stuck to the process for three years and it’s paying off for him,” said Mike Ricci, Sharks Developmental Coach. “He’s gained the details in his game that make you successful. He’s physical play has opened up space for himself which allows for him to make for plays and he’s getting to the net, chipping pucks and committing every. He’s proved he’s willing to work and now he’s seeing the fruits.”
Since the Barracuda put true together early in the year, the two have been a dynamic duo. Providing a scoring punch and heavy north/south approach.
“When we’ve had nights where the offense isn’t going it seems like that line of Marty, True and Perron have found ways to always chip in, similar to the line we had a couple years ago with Rourke (Chartier), (Adam) Helewka and (Buddy) Robinson,” said Sommer.
True who is leading the Barracuda in scoring has noticed Martin’s game take a major leap from last season and contributes a lot of his own personal success to the hard minutes Martin has put in alongside him as linemates this season.
‘It’s fun playing with Marty. He’s tough for defenders to contain down low and it’s nice to know he can protect the puck which allows for me to get open or go to the net,” said True. “I think he’s a lot more confident and comfortable, too. He’s playing really well because he’s put in a lot of work.”
“Me and Truesy work well together down low and having Franky (Francis Perron) hang out in the high slot seems to work out pretty good,” said Martin.
16 of Martins 19 points this season have included either Perron or True. In addition, Martin who had never recorded a multi-point game or goals in back-to-back games, had a three-game streak earlier this year and has recorded four multi-point games this season.
Although there were times over the last two years that Martin’s confidence wavered, he often would remind himself to stick to the process and only worry about the things in his control.
“My goal was to find more consistency… being that physical presence every night and also adding some skill,” said Martin. “There was a couple times that it was tough along the way, but it’s a process and I told myself to worry about only the things I could control.”
“What’s great is he knows there’s still room to grow and he comes to the rink everyday trying to get better,” said Ricci.
“I’ve showed everyday wanting work and get better, buying into the process,” said Martin. Ricc(i) and I always talk about it being a marathon not a sprint and it’s nice to have it finally start to pay off.”