The Maple Leafs have taken care of their last remaining restricted free agent, locking up 24-year-old defenceman Martin Marincin to a two-year contract worth $1.25 million AAV.

The salary breakdown is as follows:

The two-year term in this case may have expansion draft considerations, as the Leafs will need to expose a minimum of one defenceman who is under contract for 2017-18 and has played 40 games the season previous or 70 in the two previous seasons combined. Marincin will only need to play five games this upcoming season to meet the requirement.

In the meantime, Marincin should start the season on the left side of the team’s second or third pairing. While he’s a divisive subject and a bit of a lightning rod in the silly “game watcher versus number cruncher” debate, Marincin’s numbers show a knack for suppressing shots with his positional sense, good stick and long reach. He led all Maple Leaf defencemen in shot attempts against relative to his teammates (-5.83CA RelTM).

The 6’5 rearguard’s long skating stride could be generously described as awkward, but it is more efficient than it looks at first glance, and he also has an understated ability to make a good first pass.

His possession numbers have not, so far, translated into much in the way of individual offensive production, however. Offense has been next to non-existent for Marincin at the NHL level, with his 5v5 points per 60 ranking 160 of 168 defencemen with more than 750 minutes played in 2015-16. That is a component of his game that will have to improve if Marincin is to play significant minutes on the team’s blueline going forward. Considering his age (24), his junior production in the WHL (96 points in 125 games), his AHL production as a rookie (30 points in 69 games) and the lack of opportunity at the NHL level until late on last season, Marincin could have room to grow in that area.

After Marincin was afforded more minutes following the Phaneuf trade and the Matt Hunwick injury, Mike Babcock spoke highly of his progress down the stretch.

[wpdatachart id=83]

Ask Mike Babcock about the rise in Marincin’s positive outlook and initially the coach might shrug. Yet Babcock knew there was a capable player in Marincin, who was unable to climb the Oilers depth chart in parts of two seasons.

“I think it was coming,” Babcock said. “As the year went on, he was getting better and better. He looks like a really good hockey player. He skates, he defends, he moves the puck.”

“At the start you would say ‘Hi’ to him and he would kind of mumble under his breath,” Babcock said. “Now when you see him, he says, ‘Hi Mike, how you doing?’

“That’s what happens to people. They feel good about themselves. When you do, you share yourself more, you participate more.”

He also has a fan in Morgan Rielly, who was familiar with Marincin from junior and ended up partnering with him after Hunwick’s season-ending injury.

“Marty’s playing great,” Rielly said. “He’s really grown a lot over the course of the past few months and he’s really taken the advantage of the opportunity he’s had. It’s been fun to watch.”

“When he was in junior, he was the man,” Rielly said. “He had a greasy pair of hands, really skilled.

“He could skate, he was big, he could shoot. His hands were one of his biggest assets, the ability to make passes.

“He was one of the best D-men in our league, no question.”

Rielly and Marincin posted a 50.1% Corsi For together compared to Rielly’s 48.7% mark with Hunwick.

With Marincin signed at $1.25 million, the Leafs are down to next to no cap space as they await the outcome of the Jared Cowen buyout grievance.

Needless to say, the organization is hoping that the grievance goes their way, as it should give them enough wiggle room after acquiring a backup goaltender. With an unfavourable ruling, the Leafs will need to either eat into LTIR relief or make use of another buyout option during the upcoming post-arbitration second buyout window, which opens for 48 hours starting on Monday.

Martin Marincin Statistics

2006-07HC Kosice U18Slovakia U18160336|
2007-08HC Kosice U18Slovakia U18603293236|
2008-09HC Kosice U18Slovakia U18544835|
HC Kosice U20Slovakia U204611152650|Playoffs30000
Slovakia U18WJC-1860114-4|
2009-10HK Orange 20Slovakia3524671-27|
HC Kosice U20Slovakia U2000000|Playoffs20000
Slovakia U18 CWJC-186213143|
Slovakia U20WJC-2060226-3|
2010-11Prince George CougarsWHL6714425665-12|Playoffs41456-4
Oklahoma City BaronsAHL100021|
Slovakia U20WJC-202000272|
2011-12Prince George CougarsWHL304131725-5|
Regina PatsWHL287162310-2|Playoffs52026-3
Oklahoma City BaronsAHL601124|
Slovakia U20WJC-20612322|
2012-13Oklahoma City BaronsAHL69723304020|Playoffs1716728
2013-14Edmonton OilersNHL4406616-2|
Oklahoma City BaronsAHL2434745|
Slovakia (all)International1412316-3|
2014-15Edmonton OilersNHL4114516-4|
Oklahoma City BaronsAHL2807720-5|Playoffs802260
2015-16Toronto Maple LeafsNHL6516734-3|
Slovakia (all)International902241|