Monday, July 26, 2021 | 9:11 a.m.
The Golden Knights are on the verge of bringing back arguably last season’s most consistent defenseman.
Alec Martinez and the team are reportedly putting the finishing touches on a three-year extension, which will keep Martinez from free agency and keep Vegas’ stout blue line intact, according to Daily Faceoff. The final cap hit is expected to be close $5 million per season.
It’s a nice raise for Martinez, who turns 34 today, in order to stay in Vegas after he was acquired at the 2020 trade deadline. He played mostly with Shea Theodore during the 2020 postseason and earned rave reviews, then spent last season on the left side of Alex Pietrangelo on the top pair.
Martinez had the best season of his career last year, his first full one with the Golden Knights. On a per-game basis, because of the pandemic-shortened season, Martinez turned in career bests with nine goals, 23 assists and 32 points. He became a key cog of the Golden Knights’ sputtering power play toward the end of the year and was the only player with multiple power-play goals in the postseason.
The risk in such a deal is both Martinez’s age and his style of play. He led the NHL in blocked shots last season (168), and though he only missed three games, he played through the postseason on a broken foot sustained at the end of the regular season. He did not miss a playoff game and also led all players in playoff blocks (72).
Martinez’s extension eats up virtually the remainder of the Golden Knights’ available cap space. The team will need to make a cost-cutting move to fill out its roster or make any other improvements. Vegas had about $5.2 million in cap space before the Martinez deal, according to CapFriendly.
The Golden Knights have two remaining unrestricted free agents-to-be in forwards Tomas Nosek and Mattias Janmark. Forward Nolan Patrick, acquired earlier this month, is the only major restricted free agent.
The contracts for Nosek and Janmark expire on Wednesday, when free agency opens to all teams. Vegas will have more time to work out a deal with Patrick, who will be tendered a qualifying offer.