It’s easy to understand why a player like Danick Martel was overlooked in his draft class, as he’s a left winger under 5’9” who only put up 41 points in 68 games for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the QMJHL back in the 2012-13 season. After being passed over again during the 2013-14 campaign (despite jumping from 19 goals to 32 goals and 41 points to 60 points), it wasn’t until he was in the midst of a 48-goal, 102-point season in 2014-15 that Philadelphia Flyers’ general manager Ron Hextall offered him an entry-level deal that led to a amateur try-out with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Martel has taken that ATO and turned it into a successful stretch of point production at the AHL level over the last few seasons. The question is, will he ever turn that into point production for the Philadelphia Flyers at the NHL level?
No. 23: Danick Martel
Age: 23 (12/12/1994)
Size: 5’8” 166 (via)
Acquired Via: Signed as an undrafted free agent on March 10, 2015
2017-18 League/Team/Statistics: Lehigh Valley (AHL) - 25 G, 15 A in 59 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2018 25 Under 25: 20
Since he’s taken over as GM, Hextall has done a very good job of addressing several of the organizational needs at both the professional and prospect level. There aren’t many positions of need within the Flyers’ organization, but perhaps the biggest concern may have been finding scoring wingers who will succeed at the professional level within the next couple of seasons. The signing of James van Riemsdyk to a five-year deal and using the first of two first-round picks at this year’s NHL Entry Draft on American Joel Farabee (who potted 33 goals in 62 USDP games this past season) indicate Hextall wanted to address the concern.
This is significant because it impacts Martel’s chances (even if they’re slim) of playing consistently at the NHL level. It’s easy to knock him for his size, but Martel has shown his dynamic offensive ability at the AHL level (as illustrated in the goals below), and high-end skating and speed in his brief stint with the big club back in November. He might be the fastest skater for the organization at the NHL or AHL level, and has the hands to be a threat whenever he’s on the ice, which is why he most likely made an appearance in the 25 Under 25 again. Unfortunately for Martel, he is a little older than many other prospects and he most likely won’t be ranked any higher than 16, which is where he was back in 2015.
What a goal by Danick Martel! The Phantoms are up 2-0 early. pic.twitter.com/m7XsCHTW8m— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) May 8, 2018
Do you think he asked for a goal for his birthday?— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) December 13, 2017
Danick Martel (@martel2626) now leads the #LVPhantoms and @TheAHL in goals with 15 this season, and this one came on his 23rd birthday. pic.twitter.com/33lASBvT9T
That being said, Martel had a pretty remarkable 2017-18 season. After he compiled 14 goals in the first 14 games of the season, the diminutive forward earned a promotion to the Orange and Black to help the big club attempt to snap a five-game losing streak after a lackluster home loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The transaction didn’t help to stop the skid, as Martel, who failed to record a point and posted six shots on goal, took part in three overtime losses during his brief four-game stint with the team. He played on a line with Nolan Patrick and Wayne Simmonds, which resulted in one goal for and two goals against along with a 42.11 Corsi For percentage in 34:37 of 5-on-5 ice time. The trio were a little unlucky, as they did post an impressive 61.71 expected goals for percentage, but had a 95.0 PDO.
After he returned to the AHL, Martel’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in a game on January 13, when Colby Williams (of the Hershey Bears) laid a vicious hit on him. The hit broke his jaw and forced Martel to miss 12 games, but Martel returned to action a month later in style with a pair of goals 2:39 apart late in the first period. The Phantoms walked to an 8-2 blowout on that night, February 16th, against the Springfield Thunderbirds.
The injury also knocked Martel out of the AHL All-Star game, which he was named to in early January. He totaled 25 goals and 15 assists for 40 points in 59 games this season for the Phantoms, as he also finished third on the team in overall shots with 163. According to Brad Keffer’s Phancy Stats, Martel also led the Phantoms with 25 penalties drawn, one more than Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who played in 13 more AHL games this season. He also managed to post a 54.09 Corsi For percentage and a 4.87 relative Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5 in the A this past year. This came before he posted four goals and four assists in 13 postseason games for the Phantoms during their run to the Eastern Conference Final.
There’s no doubt Martel’s stock has risen after his stellar AHL season and NHL appearance. The question is where does he go from here? Even if he just duplicates his 2017-18 season in 2018-19, it’ll be considered a success for the winger. Ideally, he is able to hit 30 goals on a contending Phantoms’ team and perhaps sees a few more games with the Flyers.
His future with the organization, however, is tricky to project. As mentioned earlier, Hextall added JVR and Farabee to the organization within the last two months. Those two players have a very good chance to be in the Flyers’ top six/nine within the next few seasons to go along with Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, and Oskar Lindblom. Wade Allison, Isaac Ratcliffe, and Aube-Kubel are also in the system, and arguably have higher upsides than Martel.
To add on to the obstacles in Martel’s path to a top-nine spot with the Flyers in the near future, Morgan Frost and Jay O’Brien are currently centers, but they could be shifted to the wing if there is no room down the middle. Size doesn’t often hold players back in today’s game, but plenty of teams still go with the mentality that bottom sixes/fourth lines are penalty-killing, defensive-oriented skaters, which is not how many would describe Martel (although he’d beg to differ).
Signed through 2019 and a restricted free agent next summer, the Orange and Black most likely have at least two more seasons to see what Martel can do at the next level. Although unlikely, Martel could make the team out of camp, but more likely than not he’ll see time with the Flyers due to multiple injuries. For a player that needs to showcase his abilities before the wave of oncoming prospects arrive, that doesn’t sound like a promising way to stick around. Martel has the speed and skating abilities to play in today’s league, as well as good enough hands to create offensively, but is there any room for him on the NHL team in the near future?
How We Voted For Danick Martel
How We Voted At No. 23
|Mark Friedman||Matthew Strome||Matthew Strome||Matthew Strome||Jay O'Brien||Maksim Sushko||Nicolas Aube-Kubel||Connor Bunnaman||Felix Sandstrom||Danick Martel||Isaac Ratcliffe||Adam Ginning||Connor Bunnaman||Jay O'Brien||Tanner Laczynski|
How The Community Voted For Danick Martel
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Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2018 Top 25 Under 25: