If you were away from Hurricanes hockey watching astronomy events on Monday, please check out Canes and Coffee’s article on Martin Necas. The article kicked off our ‘Back to School’ series of articles on Hurricanes prospects below the AHL level. The series will feature ‘from the rink’ insight on Hurricanes prospects from interviews with coaches, scouts and media who watched the players regularly in 2016-17 and often prior.
The second article in the series continues with Luke Martin from the 2017 draft class and includes perspective both from his 2016-17 season at the University of Michigan and also from his time with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
Luke Martin was one of two Carolina Hurricanes’ draftees in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft. Martin is a big defenseman whose foundation is solid defensive play and physical play. He has been a regular on Team USA in international tournaments and just completed his freshman season at the University of Michigan where he will again play in 2017-18.
Interview with Pete Krupsky, Broadcaster and Media Relations Director for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program
About the author
Pete Krupsky (Twitter= PeteKrupsky1433) has been a part of the hockey business for 30 years. He was the play-by-play voice of the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League from 1990-2015. At one point, Krupsky called 1,433 consecutive regular season and playoff games for the Whalers between 1997-2015.
He was promoted to the Whalers Director of Communications in 2004. He worked for current Charlotte Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci, who was the Whalers general manager and head coach at that time. In 2015, Krupsky moved to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in 2015 as the team’s Broadcaster and Media Relations Director.
Interview on Hurricanes prospect Luke Martin
Pete Krupsky saw Luke Martin extensively with USA Hockey’s NTDP in 2015-16 and again for the World Junior Summer Showcase in the summer of 2017.
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe Luke Martin as a player in terms of skill set, style of play and accomplishments thus far early in his hockey career?
Pete Krupsky: The sum of Luke Martin’s game is greater than its parts. You may not notice him the first time you watch him. The more you see him, the more he grows on you.
He’s an intelligent, dependable player who can counted on to play well during the critical moments of a game. Martin is primarily a stay-at-home defender, competes well in the gritty areas of the ice and is better offensively than it seems at first glance.
Martin is team-first. There’s a reason he wore an “A” with the NTDP in 2015-16 and is a captain-type with most teams he plays for. He’s intelligent and direct.
It is no surprise he led the University of Michigan in blocked shots in 2016-17.
Canes and Coffee: Please describe Luke Martin’s 2015-16 season and development with the US NTDP?
Pete Krupsky: The NTDP U18’s dominated their opposition for much of the 2015-16 season. With talents like Clayton Keller, Kieffer Bellows and Joey Anderson (all NHL draftees) on one line and first-rounder Trent Frederic centering another line, the team won most nights because they had the puck most of the game. Martin was part of that group.
Couple of highlight packages from 2015-16 Use them if you want. I’m on play-by-play.
Martin scores the first game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gq5yU9vsjY&t=3s
Typical puck possession here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvkVVNB7GqA&t=86s&spfreload=10
Most of the time, head coach Danton Cole rolled four lines and assistant coach Chris Luongo rotated seven defensemen. Martin (often paired with Boston-draft Ryan Lindgren) was close to the team leader in ice time.
Canes and Coffee: From seeing Martin again in WJSS play this summer after a gap for the 2016-17 season, what jumped out at you as improvements or development in Martin’s game?
Pete Krupsky: Not much changed with Martin this summer, except he is bigger and stronger. He continues to play an efficient game, especially on the defensive side of the puck.
Canes and Coffee: What are the strengths that make Luke Martin a high-level NHL prospect? What areas of his game will need to improve/develop for Martin to eventually reach the NHL?
Pete Krupsky: Martin’s dependable play and low panic threshold in his own end of the ice during critical moments make him an easy choice for ice time. In time, he’ll be paired against the opposition’s top scoring lines.
All players need to improve their size and strength. I think Martin’s offensive game will continue improve with experience. Martin understands he has to earn his minutes and has no problem putting the work in to improve his game. Some players don’t understand that fact.
Canes and Coffee: Is there a current or past NHL player or two whose skill set and style of play reminds you of Luke Martin?
Pete Krupsky: Long-term, I think Martin can develop into someone like Travis Hamonic or Matt Niskanen.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else interesting or noteworthy that you would like to share with the Hurricanes fan base that is just beginning to track Martin as a prospect?
Pete Krupsky: Martin is intelligent, caring and direct. There’s a reason he wears a “A” and is a potential captain. Teams win with players like Luke Martin on the roster.
Interview with Mike Persak from the Michigan Daily
About the author
Mike Persak (Twitter=@MikeDPersak) is a rising junior at the University of Michigan. Mike is a Senior Editor for the Michigan Daily sports section and he was a beat reporter who covered the Michigan hockey team for the 2016-17 season.
Interview on Hurricanes prospect Luke Martin
Mike Persak covered Luke Martin and the University of Michigan men’s hockey team during the 2016-17 season.
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe Luke Martin’s game in 2-4 sentences. What are his strengths?
Mike Persak: Luke Martin’s game starts and ends with his defense. He’s a big kid at 6’3”, 215 pounds, who has developed a knack for blocking shots. Martin isn’t a big offensive producer, and he might not ever be, but he’s a good skater who spent some time on the power play last year, and he could reasonably progress into a solid offensive asset. Ultimately, though, what gets Martin’s foot in the door is his size and defensive instincts.
Canes and Coffee: Can you briefly summarize Martin’s freshman season with the Michigan Wolverines in 2016-17?
Mike Persak: Michigan was a really young team last year except for on the blue line. They returned most of their defensemen from the season before, so Martin didn’t get much time on the first defensive pairing. However, Martin still led the Wolverines in blocked shots, and by the end of the year, he was playing a lot on both the power play and penalty kill. He only had one goal and seven points in 35 games, but again, it wasn’t like Michigan was relying on Martin to be an offensive catalyst.
Canes and Coffee: What areas of improvement do you see for Luke Martin as he continues to develop as a young player?
Mike Persak: Martin’s offensive game is where he needs to take the next step. As I said, he can skate well, and he’s shown flashes of being a good passer, but if Martin could develop a more reliable shot, he’d increase his value. He tends to favor a wrist shot rather than a slapshot, so I’d be interested to see if he can improve that slapshot a bit and maybe get some more one-time looks in the future.
Canes and Coffee: To which NHL player(s) would you compare Luke Martin?
Mike Persak: I’d project Martin to be a good, shot-suppressing defenseman. Vancouver’s Chris Tanev comes to mind when I think of Martin’s future role. I know Martin has said his favorite player is Brent Seabrook, but I think it’d be a stretch to expect Martin to provide the kind of offensive punch that Seabrook has.
Canes and Coffee: What is something about Luke Martin that might be overlooked and maybe not noted in pre-draft profiles and scouting reports, and/or is there anything else about Luke Martin that might be of interest to Carolina Hurricanes fans?
Mike Persak: I think Martin could greatly improve next season under Michigan’s new coach Mel Pearson. Pearson took a struggling program at Michigan Tech and brought them to the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons. One of the reasons for that success was Pearson’s ability to turn the Huskies into a top Corsi team. Last season, Pearson had four defensemen with at least 20 points and two more who had 15 points. Martin seemingly has the tools to become a bigger offensive threat, and under Pearson’s tutelage, that could happen sooner rather than later.
For additional reading on Luke Martin, please check out our ‘reading list’ of external articles compiled after the Hurricanes selected Martin at the 2017 NHL Draft.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Pete Krupsky and Mike Persak for generously sharing their insight on Hurricanes prospect Luke Martin!