Jackets Sign Veteran Defenseman Radek Martinek

The Dispatch is reporting that the Blue Jackets have signed veteran defenseman Radek Martinek, formerly of the Islanders. The deal is for one year and is worth $2.2 million.

Martinek, who's 6'2" and 200 pounds, is no spring chicken; he will turn 35 at the end of August. However, he looks to fit the needs of the one remaining top-four slot on the Jackets' blue line: he's a big, right-handed shot, which would pair him nicely with the left-shooting Marc Methot, who signed a four-year contract yesterday. He scored three goals and had 13 assists in 64 games this past season with the Isles, and was -5 for the season. Considering how dreadful that team was, -5 isn't a horrible number.

"He's a very good skater," [GM Scott] Howson said. "More of a defensive guy than an offensive guy. He makes a good first pass and he can play against top people. We see him as playing somewhere in our top four."

Porty also Tweeted that Martinek has already had physicals, and that the team is happy with his health. He was injured rather severely at the World Championships in April, when he was hospitalized with a concussion and spinal injury after a hit from Latvia's Arturs Kulda. That's actually the biggest drawback for Martinek; he's been injured quite a bit over his career. He's never played more than 74 games in a season, and since that 74-game season in '05-'06 he's averaged just 47 games a season; granted, that average is skewed because he played just 16 games in '09-'10.

"For our purposes, it was the concussion (we looked at closely)," Howson said. "He played since the knee injury and with no problems, but the concussion was a concern. We wanted to make sure he was fully recovered from the concussion and our doctors took a close look at him over two days. They were convinced that he's recovered. We know what his history is. It's because of the way he plays. He plays hard; he's competitive. His injury history would indicate he's a 60- to 70-game player, and we're OK with that."

To me, this move is low-risk, medium reward. At best, you get a guy who pairs well with Methot: his right-handed shot balances Methot's lefty shot, and allows them both to play on the side on which they're more comfortable handling the puck. They score roughly the same number of points per year. You're not asking Martinek to do too much. At worst, he's injured and/or ineffective. Even still, the salary isn't horrible, and you're not tied to him for more than one season.

This deal is slightly lower than what Matt was projecting, which gives the Jackets a little more wiggle room come deadline time, depending on how they round out the roster.

At the end of the day, this move isn't a needle-mover. It has the potential to be a solid, cheap move, just as it has the potential to be a non-factor if Martinek fights injuries again. Either way, it doesn't saddle the Jackets with huge salary obligations, and Martinek might just fit right in nicely on that second pair.

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