Chalk this one up to a temporary solution. While he has shown no signs of slowing down, Alec Martinez is going to be 34 when the 2021-22 season begins.
He’s got 12 NHL seasons under his belt – 11 if you don’t count the four games he played in his first year – so you never quite know when that will catch up to a player. Signing Martinez would depend greatly on how much he wants.
Martinez is coming off a $4 million contract. You can argue for or against paying him that same amount, but the bottom line is there is inherent danger signing an older player for large money or long term.
If you could bump that down to $3 million, or maybe even less (unlikely), and for a couple years, that would be a good contract. You’d get a good player, with safe term and not hinder your other players.
The Blues have some up and coming defenders, like a Scott Perunovich. Yet, while he could be NHL ready this coming season or the next, why force him?
If you can get a player the caliber of Martinez while you get Perunovich more seasoning, why not do that? Martinez won’t get you a bunch of points, but he’s a good puck mover and still plays with some physicality and grit. He doesn’t take a lot of penalties either, which is not something you could say about Joel Edmundson.
It is a risk to sign players in their mid-30’s, but Martinez’ experience could be very valuable. The Blues do need more depth on the left side.
Most fans want the big, sexy name that has the prospect of putting up a lot of points. While it would be great for the Blues to find that person, the truth is it may not be available.
With that in mind, you might look more to quantity over quality and bring in multiple people that can do certain jobs, which might free up other guys to take on less responsibility. Tomas Nosek would be that kind of player.
Like some of the other centers on this list, Nosek is not going to score a bunch of points. He actually set a career best with eight goals and 18 points and did that in 38 games, when he’d never scored more than 17 in a full season.
But, you bring Nosek in as a more old-school, bottom-six center. He’s going to win the vast majority of his faceoffs and he will grind it out.
If you lose Bozk to free agency, you’re bringing in a player that is younger in Nosek. He’s versatile enough to fit on your third line, but if you put him on the fourth line, that would free Oskar Sundqvist to move up the lineup and get more minutes without a lot of line shuffling.
He’s worth it just for the faceoffs. His career numbers are just a shade over 52% won and he won a whopping 66.7% of his draws in the 2021 playoffs.
He’s not the sexy name, but he would fill a gap that might be open if the Blues have to move on from Bozak. Really, even if you keep Bozak, you could bring in Nosek and let Sundqvist float around to just about any line he would be needed on.
Depth wins just as much as skill in the current incarnation of the NHL. The Blues need to restock.