Here at In Lou We Trust we look at more than just the top prospects and potential early round picks. We also like to look at the prospects that are projected to go later in the draft. Those players that are a bit raw. Those that only have one or two attributes that make them stand out. Those that don't have a lot written about them. We'll take a look today at London Knights defenseman, Chris Martenet, whose 6'7" frame makes him pop out on the roster sheet as well as on the ice.
Who is Chris Martenet?
Chris Martenet is a left handed defenseman, born on 9/25/96 in Waukesha, WI according to his Elite Prospects page, though his OHL profile page mentions his hometown as St. Louis, Missouri. Martenet is listed at 6'7", 197 lbs. and according to Elite Prospects, he was the 4th tallest player and 3rd tallest defenseman in the OHL last year.
Prior to the OHL, he spent two seasons at the highly regarded Shattuck St. Mary's school in Faribault, Minnesota for Midget AA hockey. He spent his first season at Shattuck St. Mary's as a teammate of Jeremy and William Brodeur and his second season as a teammate of William Brodeur. He then moved on to the USHL to play with the Indiana Ice (Blake Coleman's fomer team) in their final season before being disbanded. He only appeared in 35 regular season games and 2 playoff games for the Ice as they went on to win the Clark Cup Championship.
Martenet was never drafted by a CHL club, thus making him a free agent after the 2013-14 season. He elected to sign with the OHL's London Knights which has produced NHL defensemen such as Dennis Wideman, Kyle Quincey, and John Carlson (also played for Indiana Ice). More recently Olli Maatta and the towering Nikita Zadorov have been developed by the London Knights and started their NHL careers. He wasn't relied on to be more than a #4/5 defenseman for the Knights as a rookie but did manage to play in 64 of a possible 68 games and in all 10 of their playoff games. Let's take a look at his stats from Elite Prospects and CHL Stats.
As you can see, point production is not an aspect of his game. More than half of the points he put up for London this year were secondary. His estimated Time on Ice was 12.59 which ranked 5th among the London defense. He'll have a chance to develop and earn more ice time in the OHL next year.
What Others Say About Chris Martenet
Martenet is ranked as the 81st best North American skater for this draft by Central Scouting. He improved on his midterm ranking of 92nd. Some of that may have to do with him putting up no goals and 5 assists in 34 games through December and then notching 7 goals and 4 assists in 30 games from January through March.
Before the season, Brock Otten of OHL Prospects ranked Martenet as the 9th best North American player jumping ship to the OHL. He had this to say about the move for Martenet:
The Knights are bringing in some new faces next year to their defense, thanks to the graduation of several key players. And Martenet is one of them. He played last year for the USHL champion Indiana Ice, but saw little playing time in the playoffs. Like Meyer (10th on this list), he's a real big kid (6'6) who I'm sure the Knights are hoping can add some size to a relatively small defense. He's going to get his chance to show he can play as the defensive spots behind Bergman and Mermis (and Zadorov if he's around) all are up for grabs.
With the playing time and opportunity that London was able to offer Martenet, it makes sense as to why he signed there. It's interesting to see how he was joining a young defensive group which makes me think that he was able to gain a lot of experience this year against a high level of competition. I recently asked Brock for his thoughts on Martenet now that the season is over and this is what he told me:
@onepasthunter Improved a lot over the course of his first OHL season. Could be a physical beast once he gets stronger. Decent skater too.
— OHL Prospects Blog (@BrockOtten) May 11, 2015
@onepasthunter I think he'll go higher than where he's currently ranked. NHL teams will be enamored with his size and potential.
— OHL Prospects Blog (@BrockOtten) May 11, 2015
It's nice to hear that he improved as the year went on, which further backs up his slight rise in the Central Scouting rankings. I'm not surprised to read that he could be a physical beast when he bulks up since being just 197 lbs. at 6'7" leaves a lot of room for him to bulk up and gain muscle. I'd imagine any team that drafts him would like to see him get at least another 20-25 lbs. on his frame over the next few years. I also like reading a positive review on his skating since a lot of big guys struggle with that aspect of the game.
Brendan Ross of McKeen's Hockey had this to say about Martenet in late February:
Skating at 6-foot-7 and it’s not surprising that first-year OHL defenseman Chris Martenet is drawing attention from scouts. On a young and inexperienced London blue line, Martenet has been a welcome addition and he’s improving with each passing game. His lanky long stride allows him to cover ice quickly and with his wide-wingspan Martenet has shown to be very difficult to beat on the outside. For a big man, Martenet owns good mobility and he hasn’t been shy to carry the puck up ice either. Gathering points will never be Martenet’s go-to skill set but he’s proving to be very valuable, replacing the tough minutes left behind after Nikita Zadorov’s departure last season. He’s very raw as a prospect but it’s hard not to love his size (obviously) and his overall demeanour/confidence on the ice is very attractive as well.
Another positive review about his mobility which is awesome to see out of the big man. It's encouraging to read that he knows how to use his size effectively to disrupt attacks from the opposition.
Finally, I'll leave you with this tweet from Central Scouting that implies that NHL teams have Martenet on their radar, which is no surprise given his size.
DT: NHL Teams are quietly hoping that Chris Martenet falls in the Draft so they can scoop him up but there is ZERO chance of that happening.
— NA Central Scouting (@MarkSeidel) February 24, 2015
A Little Video
Unfortunately there isn't a lot of video of Martenet out there. He had a few hockey fight clips on YouTube that have since been taken down. I did manage to track down some video of him from highlight packages. First, here are the highlights from London's 8-6 win over Saginaw on March 20, where Martenet (#86) had a goal and an assist. You can see his goal at 1:27 when he retrieves a loose puck in front of the net during a scramble, showing his awareness. In this video from February 16, you can see his goal at the 0:16 mark when he fires a quick shot on net from the blue line.
An Opinion of Sorts
His size alone makes him an intriguing prospect, but size can be overvalued in hockey. Martenet does possess some attractive qualities on the ice, namely his mobility and effective wing-span that allows him to cover a lot of ice efficiently. With that said, he is really raw and will be a project for any team that drafts him. Given the Devils depth when it comes to defensive prospects, I'd rather they look to grab some forwards in the middle of the draft than a defensive project. That's not a knock against Martenet - I just feel that a team that has a thin defenseive prospect pool would be better off taking him as opposed to the Devils which have a strong pool of defensive prospects.
One question I have about Martenet that can't really be answered unless he reaches the next level, is how much does his age (late September birthdate) and size affect the way he looks against smaller competition? Some of his competition in the OHL is about 2 years younger than him. Even those players that are his age or older, does his massive size make him look better than he is? If he makes it to professional hockey, he will still be large but there will be a lot more guys closer to his size and in some cases, have superior strength. This is definitely a concern that I would have about him if the Devils drafted him.
It will be interesting to see how Martenet does next season with London as he will have an OHL season under his belt. Will he continue to progress or will he reach his ceiling? Like I said above, he's a risky pick and if the Devils are going to take a risk, I'd rather they do it on a forward with offensive skills.
Would you be satisfied if the Devils were to take Martenet with their 4th round selection (97th overall)? Do you think this is a project that would be worth taking a gamble on? Would you rather they focus their 4th round pick on a different type of player? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!