Of all the Colorado Avalanche attempts to find a European free agent diamond in the rough the past three years, Andreas Martinsen undoubtedly got the longest look in the NHL. Players like Dennis Everberg and Borna Rendulic were both big and tall imports who flashed potential but failed to climb back to the big club after suffering injuries in previous seasons. They played a total of 18 games for the Avalanche last season and both are now headed back to Europe to pursue other opportunities.
Martinsen took a little different route. After failing to make the NHL roster out of camp, he puttered around rather indifferently in the AHL until he was called up by necessity in mid-November. On the Avalanche, he looked like a different player -- suddenly inspired and contributing in various places throughout the lineup. He skated hard, unleashed monster hits, and laid waste to veterans like Chris Neil and Steve Downie in fisticuffs when they objected to the Lord of Fjörcheck's unrepenting rule.
MHH Survey Grade: 73.0%
Though Patrick Roy made it clear Martinsen's physical play was going to be his ticket to remaining in the NHL, the Norwegian Legion wasn't just a bruiser. At times, he demonstrated a finishing ability that suggested he might one day be a double-digit goal scorer if he could keep skating to the right spots. He finished the year with just 4 goals in 55 games, but when you see a complete play like this, one can't help but imagine a useful bottom-six career ahead of him.
But you can't discuss Martinsen's season without talking about some of the low points. For large stretches of games he seemed to disappear on the ice, or stand out in bad ways -- committing untimely penalties, losing defensive assignments, or failing to drive possession. These are all symptoms of being an NHL rookie, albeit a 25-year old one, playing on the smaller North American ice for the first time. Some of that can be blamed on Roy inexplicably elevating Martinsen to top-six lines after showing success in a smaller role. Some of that is the big guy needing to grow into a more complete hockey player.
At some point, the coach has to realize the players are succeeding because they're being utilized correctly, not because they deserve a more prominent role.
MHH Staff Grade: C
Maybe it's because he's an infinite source of great sobriquets, but I'd love to see the team tender Martinsen another contract this summer. I'm interested in how he might progress after a full offseason with the team and a clearer idea of how to succeed in the world's top league. Should he ever be a top-six option? No, but the Avalanche could do a lot worse than make him the 13th forward or, you know, make some other bottom-six veterans expendable.