The Toronto Maple Leafs were looking to get tougher as they entered free agency. Consider it ‘mission accomplished’.
Toronto signed left wing Matt Martin, considered to be the leading hitter in the league, to a four-year, $10 million contract on Friday. Martin said he is looking forward to joining Toronto, one of the most storied franchises in the NHL.
“I’m ecstatic to be part of a prestigious organization like the Toronto Maple Leafs, obviously, an Original Six team, a lot of history,” Martin said. “Obviously, they have a great coaching staff, great management, and a lot of good, young players. I think they’re going to be a very good team for years to come, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Martin, 27, spent his first seven NHL seasons with the New York Islanders after being picked in the fifth round (No. 148) of the 2008 NHL Draft and admitted that his decision to leave New York was not an easy one.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” he said. “It’s hard. You kind of handle it well all week, and the last month when I kind of figured I was heading this way, but when the day finally comes, you have a little bit of a pit in your stomach.
“There’s so many things that come to play in picking a franchise, so it was a hard decision, obviously, my time spent in New York was seven years, and it was a big part of my life and I have nothing bad to say about the Islanders organization. They’ve done nothing but treated me well, and I’m honored to be a part of that, but moving to the Maple Leafs is a big step. I’m confident that it’s going to be a pleasant experience to me, and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello says the addition of Martin is a big coupe for the team.
“Certainly his size and strength, and we feel his skating is very good,” Lamoriello said. “I’ve had the good experience to play against him for a good number of years to where I came from (New Jersey Devils), so I’ve seen him over a period of time, and our staff liked him and our coaching staff liked him, and that’s the most important thing.”
Martin, who is a native of Windsor, Ontario is excited to play in front of his hometown.
“Honestly, it really factored into my decision, I think,” Martin said. “He’s appealing as a coach. He’s been so successful throughout the years with the [Detroit] Red Wings. I’ve watched players emerge, you know,Justin Abdelkader, under his style; Leo Komarov last season obviously had a big year. It’s appealing to me in that sense. I think he’s someone that can bring your game to another level, and I think that’s what we all want as players.”