Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk
Next in line for talented defensemen from Minnesota is USNTDP U18 rearguard Jake Martin. Martin was born in White Bear Lake, MN, and played the majority of his minor hockey within Gentry Academy, the private academy which 2021 NHL Draft prospect Chaz Lucius and his younger brother, Cruz’ parents founded. He recorded some impressive numbers in his 15U AAA season, scoring six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in only 13 games.
Martin was recruited for the US National Team Development Program for the 2019-20 season, where he suited up with the U17 squad. He had a solid rookie season, totaling three goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 49 games, while skating just under 15 minutes a game.
This past season, Martin inherited more of a defensive role, although his statistics didn’t show it. Martin increased his goals (4), assists (8), and points (12) totals from the 19/20 season, all while averaging over two minutes less ice time per game (14:54 min/60 in 19/20, 12:43 min/60 in 20/21).
For the 2021/22 season, Martin will be taking his stellar defensive skillset to the University of Wisconsin, where he’ll join a Badgers squad led by Head Coach Tony Granato. Wisconsin will certainly be looking for redemption after losing the Big Ten Championship to Minnesota, as well as bowing out of the National Championship in the Semi-Finals to Bemidji State this past season. Martin will join a squad which features fellow 2021 NHL Draft prospect Corson Ceulemans, as well Brock Caufield, the older brother of Montreal Canadiens standout, Cole Caufield.
D.O.B – March 18, 2003
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –190 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right
Martin’s Style Of Play
Jake Martin is yet another product of a stellar program at the United States National Team Development Program. Martin is a defensive-defenseman who can provide a little bit of secondary offense. His game reminds me quite a bit of former USNTDP and current New York Ranger, Ryan Lindgren.
Offensively, Martin is an accurate passer at short, medium and long range passes. He can also find success distributing the puck under pressure. Martin also has an underrated amount of hockey IQ, as he can more often than not see a play developing and deliver an accurate pass before the opponent can pick up on it.
Defensively, Martin is an effective penalty killer, who can clear the zone with ease, as well as shutting down opponent’s PP. He likes to push attackers to the outside edges when they’re breaking into the offensive zone, so he can close the gap and retrieve the puck. Martin uses his size and strength to bring just the right amount of physicality to the game. can surprise opponents with reverse hits battling for the puck in the defensive zone.
Let’s get a little more in-depth with Jake Martin’s game:
Jake Martin’s skating seems to be the one aspect of his game where scouts arent overly fond of. He’s not a bad skater, but his footspeed and overall technique leaves a little bit to be desired. However, I find him to be a decently agile skater and is slightly above average in his ability to stop and turn on a dime.
Martin’s overall speed ranks about average in his class, but he’s quick enough to keep pace with hard charging opponents most of the time. He uses his crossovers to generate speed from his own zone through to the neutral zone in transition, which can catch opposing teams off guard.
As mentioned above, Martin will more likely than not look to work on his skating mechanics as he transitions to the next level, but to have imperfect skating ability at this level is definitely not uncommon. With the proper training and coaching, he’ll be able to correct these minor issues in no time.
When it comes to offense, it’s not the first thing you think of in terms of Martin’s most talented skillset. That being said, he does possess one powerful shot, but his accuracy can be a little bit off at times. What surprised me the most about his offensive abilities was his above average hands for a defensive minded blueliner. Martin’s able to stickhandle in tight spaces with moderate success in all three zones of the ice.
One huge factor to Martin’s offensive toolbelt is his effectiveness in transition. He’s able to hit a teammate with a pass or carry the puck himself with a impressive amount of success as he completes a controlled zone entry. When in the offensive zone, he’s quite content to get the puck in deep and chase after it, or stop his rush and wait for some help from his teammates.
With the right development at the next level, there’s a fair bit of untapped potential that Martin can bring to his offensive game.
Without a doubt the most impressive trait to Martin’s game is his skills and awareness in the defensive zone. More often than not, he can anticipate where the play is headed, which allows him to block passing lanes and break up the opponent’s chances.
Down low in his own zone, Martin likes to play the man, tying them up or knocking them off the puck, while a teammate can corral it and move it up ice. Martin also has a fairly active stick when defending 5v5 or on the penalty kill, although his reach isn’t necessarily the largest.
When defending the neutral zone and his own blueline, Martin thrives on being able to push the attackers out wide towards the boards, closing the gap and usually succeeding in muscling them off the puck. Another noteworthy aspect of Martin’s defensive game is his body positioning when fighting off attackers. He isn’t often caught out of position, which helps him pick the right angles to pressure opponents and hopefully break up a potential scoring chance.
Perhaps my only knock on Martin is that sometimes he might not make the most neat of plays to shut down attackers. However, he can shut them down just the same. It might not always have to look pretty, but if it works, it works.
As with pretty much any prospect, there’s always room to develop their skills. That exact statement rings true with Martin. While his defensive game is quite sound, there are a few other areas of his game he’ll certainly look to develop as he attends Wisconsin next season.
First, Martin could be a little more patient with the puck at times, especially transitioning out of the defensive zone. Watching film on Martin from this past season, he’s definitely improved on this as he’s seemed to acclimate well to USNTDP/USHL play. That being said, Martin has had instances where he’s thrown the puck haphazardly up ice and it’s resulted in turnovers in the defensive zone. Look for him to polish this up in the near future.
Perhaps the biggest flaw scouts see in Martin is his skating. His footwork and overall speed could use some work, as he can sometimes be caught a bit flat footed when defending against more agile and quick forwards. However, some adjustments to his overall mechanics should be able to correct the majority of the issues here. With the right guidance and development, Martin can certainly become an above average skater.
Lastly, Martin’s shot accuracy could use some work, as he can sometimes be a little off the mark when getting pucks on net, which leads to the puck exiting the offensive zone. That being said, there are times where his shots get blocked, but he may look to improve on this by being a little more patient in shooting, or dishing the puck off to a teammate elsewhere in the offensive zone.
When taking a look at every aspect of Jake Martin’s game, it’s clear to see that the tools are there for him to develop into an excellent top-4 defensive defenseman, who can also provide some secondary offense. Arguably, his floor seems to be in a bottom-4 defender, most likely in a shutdown role.
Perhaps the most impressive facet of Martin’s overall game is his defensive skills and general awareness in his own zone, which are among the best in the Draft Class. There’s still some work to be done in terms of his offensive production, his shooting accuracy, and his skating mechanics and footwork.
Martin will without a doubt benefit from attending the University of Wisconsin, as they have excellent staff and are generally considered one of the better NCAA men’s hockey programs. If a team is looking for that shutdown type of player, with an added bit of offense mixed in, look no further than Jake Martin. He’s been scattered around in most Draft rankings, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see a team select him somewhere in the second or third round.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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