While most fans want to see a forward taken in the first round, the Devils are known to take the best player available with their picks. Our second profile for the New Jersey Devils' first round pick is on Brycen Martin, a solid defenseman who has played with a few current Devils prospects. He has a wide variety of skills and could bring his own bit of flare to a team that is already stacked on defense.
Who is Brycen Martin?
Brycen Martin is a 6'2" 185 lbs defenseman from Calgary. As the 26th ranked North American skater, Martin has quietly been making a name for himself. He was selected second overall by the Swift Current Broncos in 2011, he played along side Julius Honka, a flashier defender who used Martin's steady play and hockey smarts to steady the blueline. He isn't a player with flashy numbers, but he is a player you want on your side. He is not known for careless turnovers and plays well in open ice.
Martin uses his size to his advantage and is most always in the right position to make a smart play. He makes good first passes and is working to become a stronger two-way defenseman. He is projected to become a top four defender with all of the strong tools he possesses. He is also a strong asset on the power play.
On the negative side of things, Martin didn't play particularly well at the NHL Top Prospects game. His most notable contribution was causing a penalty shot that nearly turned into a goal when he Nikolay Goldobin down from behind. He also slipped six spots in the Draft Prospect Rankings (from 20 to 26). That is mostly due to his play in his own end. While he has been trying to improve it, he finished the season a -16 though he was the second highest scoring defenseman with 37 points in 2013-2014.
What experts are saying about Martin:
"Brycen is a very appealing player because you don't often see him make mistakes out there. He's got very good hockey sense, he's a strong skater, and he moves the puck well...he has all the ingredients of today's NHL defenceman.
"You're not going to see him on the highlight reels, but he's just a very solid, effective player,"
To highlight the flaws in his game, Curtis Deem of The Scouting Report said this in February of 2014,
"Martin can skate, has a good shot, and will also be at his best in offensive situations. Martin's defensive zone play has hampered the team at times, but occasional glaring mistake aside, it's easy to see Martin as a potential second pair NHL defenseman, who can step into the powerplay if need be."
Here are a few highlights and an interview early in the 2013-2014 season:
The Calgary Flames did an interview with Martin, as well. He gives his thoughts on his draft year and what he was trying to accomplish leading up to the big day,
I, like most fans would prefer picking a solid forward with the first round pick. With that said, it seems as though Martin has a lot of potential to be a great defender. He models his game off of Alex Pietrangelo and Scott Niedermayer - if he can accomplish anything close to that, he'll be great in the NHL. I hope the Devils don't use their first round pick on Martin, but if he were still around in the second, he'd be tough to pass up.
What are your thoughts on Brycen Martin? Do you think he is worth taking a defender in the first round, or do the Devils really need to focus on forward? Do you think he has too many negatives to his game to be a first round pick? Please leave your thoughts on Martin in the comments below. Thanks for reading!