Standing at just 5’8″, Danick Martel has always had something to prove. The undrafted free agent was signed only after putting up 102 points in his final junior season. He’s scoring at another insane rate this year in the AHL.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward scored in his sixth-straight game on Wednesday morning, giving him seven goals in his last six games. He now leads the AHL with 14 goals and 19 points in 14 games this season.
Martel has always been a scorer, as he tallied back-to-back 20-goal seasons, 22 in 2015-16 and 20 last year, in his first full professional campaigns, but he has taken it to the next level this season. He has scored goals in 10 of 14 games, including a hat trick to open the season and two other two-goal games.
14 goals is an impressive total for half of a season, or even longer, but Martel has amassed that in as many games. They haven’t been ugly goals either. Martel has shown off his speed, hands, and shooting ability to get him to the top of the AHL scoring leaders.
Let’s take a look at each of the 14 goals he has scored this season.
October 7th: 3 goals vs. Hershey
Martel got off to a fast start with a hat trick on opening night.
Martel’s first goal of the season showed off his hockey sense and positioning. His shot was saved, but followed up the play and stayed in front of the net where he tapped home a behind-the-net pass from Mike Vecchione.
A nice finish by Martel just 2:19 into the season.
His second goal of the game was one of his few “dirty goals” on the season. He got knocked down in front of the net but still managed to tip home Reece Wilcox’s point shot.
And he wanted the hatty.
He sped by a defender and beat the goalie with a wrist shot to score his third of the game.
A great shot, and an even better celebration.
Get used to that. You’ll be seeing a lot of it.
Season total: 1 game, 3 goals
October 7th: 1 goal at Hartford
Martel scored in back-to-back games to start the season.
This time it was a quick snipe off a faceoff win in the offensive zone.
There’s plenty more where that came from.
Season total: 2 games, 4 goals
October 15th: 1 goal at Hershey
Martel took a week (two games) off from scoring, but he was back at it in Hershey.
He got the puck in the offensive zone and wired an absolute laser into the back of the net.
A perfectly placed shot by Martel.
Martel has a wicked wrister, and he’s been showing it off all season long.
Season total: 5 games, 5 goals
October 20th: 2 goals vs. Bridgeport
Martel scored in back-to-back games for him, as he added two more in a win against Bridgeport.
He got away for a semi-breakaway after a great pass, and beat the netminder for his first of the night.
He seems to always be able to find the area of the net left uncovered by the goalie.
He added a second goal on a backhand wraparound attempt later in the game. It found its way into the back of the net.
Martel was back over a goal-per-game pace. That would only last for a game, but he quickly got it back up to a goal per game.
Season total: 6 games, 7 goals
October 27th: 2 goals at Springfield
Martel once again went two games without scoring, but got back on the board with two goals in Springfield to get back up to a goal-per-game pace.
The first one came on the power play, as he backhanded it past the netminder after whiffing on a forehand shot.
The second one was a more Martelesque goal, though. He sniped a wrister on a 2-on-1 rush.
Martel hasn’t been held off the scoreboard in a game since.
Season total: 9 games, 9 goals
October 28th: 1 goal vs Hartford
Martel finished off a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from a sharp-angle for his 10th goal of the season.
What a great play all around, and a nice finish by Martel for the power-play goal.
Season total: 10 games, 10 goals
November 3rd: 1 goal vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Martel got another power-play goal in this one. He faked a shot, deked out the goalie, and roofed a wrister into the wide-open cage.
Another day, another dollar for Danick.
Season total: 11 games, 11 goals
November 4th: 1 goal at Binghamton
Martel scored a power-play goal in a third-straight game. This time he set up at the bottom of the icrcle and fired a shot after receiving a pass from behind the net.
A great setup by the Phantoms power-play unit.
I think we’ve seen that celly before.
Season total: 12 games, 12 goals
November 5th: 1 goal vs. Toronto
Martel scored the lone Phantoms goal against the Marlies. He got a great cross-ice feed from Nicolas Aube-Kubel and beat the netminder.
A nice shot by Danick.
Season total: 13 games, 13 goals
November 8th: 1 goal at Bridgeport
Last, but certainly not least, is Martel’s most recent goal from Wednesday morning.
Martel got the puck at the outside of the circle and teed up a slap shot to beat the goalie on the short side.
14 goals in 14 games.
Season total: 14 games, 14 goals
Martel leads the AHL with 14 goals, which is six more than the three tied for second in the league. He also leads the league in points with 19, one more than Chris Bourque in second. Martel’s shooting percentage (14 goals on 48 shots, 29.16%) is a bit unsustainable, but he still has an impressive shooting percentage of 14.69% over his last two full seasons.
Martel isn’t doing anything new. He has had to prove himself at each level of hockey in his career. Due to his small stature his scoring ability wasn’t enough to get him drafted or even signed after the draft. The Flyers signed him in March of 2015 in the tail end of his 48-goal, 102-point season with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada where he was an alternate captain.
Martel was able to score in his first full season with the Phantoms, but his defensive game away from the puck left much to be desired. He was a minus-player at -11 for the first time in his career, and that is something he’s been working on.
Stephen Gross of the Morning Call had a fantastic piece on Martel just last week. It’s well worth a read, including quotes on Martel and his head coach Scott Gordon. Here’s one quote from Gordon on Martel, to give you a taste of what we’re talking about here.
“Now that there’s a lot more consistency without the puck, second efforts, back checking and reading the play so as a result now you can say at least if he’s on the ice in the NHL, he’s not going to give the game away with a poor read or poor decision. That gives him a better chance of going up to the NHL and play and not be a risk or liability on defense.
In short, Martel is doing more of the little things and knows what he needs to work on to potentially become an NHL player.
Becoming an NHL player isn’t something that might not be too far off for Martel. If he continues to score at a rate close to what he’s doing, he could earn a look with the big club. The Flyers have their own logjam of bottom-six forwards, but they aren’t putting up the production that you’d like to see. Even if he doesn’t get the call this season, he is still just 22 years old (23 in December) and will certainly battle for a spot this season.
The NHL is shifting towards a faster, more skilled game. Shorter players have succeeded in the past and are currently succeeding in the show. Martel already has the Danny Briere fist pump down, and the scoring touch to go with it, now all he needs is a Flyers jersey.
Martel will be ready if the Flyers need him, but for now he’s doing his thing in the AHL.
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