The Vegas Golden Knights and unrestricted free agent defenseman Alec Martinez have agreed to a three-year extension, the team announced Wednesday.
The 34-year-old defenseman will hold an average annual value of $5.25 million.
Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reported Monday that the two parties were closing in on an extension.
“It was a long process, but obviously really happy to get things done and be back,” Martinez said. “I’ve touched on it a lot before about the special group that we have there. It’s going to sound a lot like I do in season, but there are a lot of good guys in that locker room, on and off the ice.”
We initially predicted a two-year deal at the same AAV for Martinez three weeks before the market opened. There was belief teams were prepared to offer the defenseman deals upward of $6 million. One team did offer that, according to a source, but it was on a two-year deal. As talks progressed, Martinez wanted one more year tacked to any deal, and the Golden Knights were prepared to do that on a lesser deal with no state income tax, the source said.
Martinez confirmed that the third year was important to him.
“The three years, that was important to me. Fortunately, I was able to get it,” he said. “As for the squad, the past couple of years we’ve been really close. Though we came up short this year, I think we took a lot of really big steps, not just in product on the ice but how we’ve handled adversity in the playoffs and how guys handled it.”
Martinez will stay with Vegas through his age-36 season and will get a hefty pay raise from his previous contract; a six-year, $24 million contract ($4 million AAV) with the Los Angeles Kings in December 2014.
The Golden Knights acquired the two-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman from their Interstate-15 rivals at the 2019 trade deadline. Vegas sent two second-round picks to Los Angeles for a player that has become a vital cog on the Golden Knights blue line.
Martinez scored 32 points in 53 games last season, on pace for the best offensive output of his NHL career. The defensive game is where he made his money this summer. Martinez blocked a league-best 168 shots; 40 more than the next player on the list.
The Rochester Hills, Michigan native missed the final three games of the regular season due to what he later revealed was a broken foot. Martinez, who averaged 22:34 in ice time during the COVID-shortened year, played all 19 playoff games on the top pairing with Alex Pietrangelo and averaged 22:32 a night.
Martinez said he’s been training for the past few weeks and is on schedule to be ready for training camp.
The Golden Knights appear determined to make some sort of splash this offseason. After trading Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks for an essential cap dump, Vegas was north of $12 million in cap space. After the Martinez deal, CapFriendly has the Golden Knights at approximately $6.96 million in room. Deals, albeit cheap, still need to be had for restricted free agents Nolan Patrick and Dylan Coghlan.
But if the Golden Knights want to get crazy, there have very much put themselves back in the hunt for one Jack Eichel. Sending one contract back to the Buffalo Sabres will make the money work. I’m not sure if the Golden Knights have circled back on the Sabres in the past 24 hours, but it’s a development worth noticing.
Nevertheless, the Golden Knights have one of their top defensemen back for what will likely be his final big-time contract.
“I was proud of the way the guys played,” he said. “I was proud of the way they handled everything the last year. I’m excited to get going again and take a crack at this thing.”