There have been few figures in Leafs Nation as polarizing as the man affectionately known as “Marv”. Martin Marincin has been subjected to more criticism for his play from Leafs fans than almost any other Leaf during his five seasons with the club. But how much of the heat has really been warranted?
When he was acquired from Edmonton for Brad Ross and a 4th round pick in the summer of 2015, there was hope he would still be able to crack a healthy NHL blue line. He was only 23 years old with already two seasons of NHL experience under his belt and ended up playing a career high 65 games in the Leafs’ memorable last place 2015-2016 season.
Almost immediately, Marincin became an undeserving scapegoat on a team bereft of talent. No scout or analyst would ever refer to Marincin’s play as ‘flashy’ but that didn’t prevent him from posting impressive underlying numbers. His 53.56 CF% was the second highest mark among regular Leafs defenders and he also came out on the positive side of the expected goals share at 5v5.
As the team improved, Marincin’s name slid down the organizational depth chart. He spent most of the 2016-2017 season in the press box, playing only 25 games and tallying 6 points to go with a 50.79 CF%. Despite his precarious standing with the team, he chose to re-sign that summer.
In 2017-2018 Marincin was finally waived and sent down to the Marlies where he played an essential role under Sheldon Keefe during their Calder Cup victory. Marty again, chose to stay with the Leafs for the league’s minimum salary.
In each of the following years Marincin has been exposed to waivers and bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL. Again, he re-signed at the minimum salary for another year. There’s been no stories of his unhappiness while he withered away in the press box. There’s been no rumors of him being unhappy with his role within the organization.
He started the year as the club’s 7th defenceman, a healthy scratch from day one before being placed on waivers and sent down to The AHL. He’s since been surpassed on the depth chart by rookie Rasmus Sandin, he’s arguably been surpassed by recent acquisition Calle Rosen. He’s fought for ice time with rookie Timothy Liljegren. And despite all that, he shows up and does his job.
It isn’t always pretty, and in fact it almost never is. But the numbers don’t lie; a 51.6 CF%, and a 53.8 xGF% rank among the best from Maple Leafs defenders this season. No matter how it looks, Marincin is once again posting positive on-ice results for his team when they’ve called upon him.
Not many teams are well equipped to go 9 men deep on their defensive depth chart, and some – like Carolina and Vegas – have been forced to make costly additions for fear of dropping out of the playoff race. The Leafs have certainly had to rely on their depth this season, and that’s what Marincin is. He’s never going to be a top pairing defender but he has shown that he can step in and get the job done when he needs to. Toronto, despite missing their top two defencemen have managed to not only stay in the race, but gain ground on the backs of players like Marv.