Change can be difficult.
However, for 6-foot-2, 200-pound Jonathon Martin, who took the ice for the first time Monday in a Roadrunners sweater at day one of the team’s training camp, coming to Tucson came with a few motives and a bit of familiarity.
Inked to a one-year contract just over a month ago after spending the previous three seasons in San Jose with the divisional foe Barracuda, the 24-year-old elected to come to Arizona and is already feeling good about his choice.
“I’m happy to be here. [Tucson] approached me kind of late in the summer and at the time I was waiting for something to come,” he said following the team’s first on-ice session at the Ice Den Scottsdale. “We took a look at it, looked at the team and they made it known they were really interested.”
Interested, for good reason.
After the Winnipeg, Manitoba native’s first two seasons with San Jose netted him a combined six goals and ten assists in 79 games, Martin burst with production during the 2018-19 campaign, reaching double-digits in goals and assists for the first time in his pro career.
The upswing in contribution is something the new addition attributes to his ethic behind the scenes, on top of an array of new opportunities during his third tour in the AHL.
“I just tried to make a good effort at putting in the [necessary] work last year,” Martin said of the noticeably sizable statistical increases. “I try to put in the work every summer but I thought I just got a little bit more of an opportunity last season, found myself surrounded by some better players and I ran with it.”
Parlaying those two facets into this season’s contract, the deal with Tucson has already come with some open doors that hadn’t yet been available to the winger in his past.
Although on an AHL contract, Martin earned an invitation to the Arizona Coyotes 2019-20 Veterans Training Camp, which led to a spot in the Coyotes lineup on September 17 against Los Angeles at Gila River Arena.
“[Coyotes Training Camp] was a really good experience, a fun one too. I learned a lot of things and it was great to skate with the big boys for a bit. It was my first exhibition game at the NHL level too, so I’m thankful for that as well.”
Being given the chance to dress in an NHL-sanctioned game is special within itself, but there was more to it than just that for Martin.
Tucson’s first-ever #71 skated over ten minutes of game action on a line with Tyler Steenbergen and Lane Pederson, both of whom he was teammates with during the 2015-16 season as members of the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos.
The trio shared success during their lone campaign together in junior hockey, all finishing in the top five in scoring on a roster that also included now-NHL rostered players Jake DeBrusk (Boston) and Maxime Lajoie (Ottawa).
Then, Martin paced the club with 38 goals, but now he’s picked up some sizable assists from Pederson and Steenbergen once again within the past few weeks.
“They’ve helped me a lot coming in here, it’s been great knowing they’re here,” Martin said with a smile in regards to his former and now potentially once again teammates. “Coming to a new team can always be tough but seeing them has been great. They’ve introduced me to all the guys and I can’t thank them enough for that. It’s been an easy transition having those guys around.”
As Pederson has become a household name in Tucson over the past two seasons and remains with the Arizona Coyotes Training Camp at this time, Martin is looking forward to showing Southern Arizona his style of play and becoming a staple as well.
“I’m a big forward and I like to be that power forward type guy,” he described himself as. “I like to try and do it all, I’ll stick up for my teammates, get in on the forecheck and contribute on the score sheet.”
The right-handed shot will hone the technical traits and continue to learn the organizational structure over the next few days, following that he’ll then look to demonstrate his abilities in a Roadrunners sweater during the club’s looming preseason games in Milwaukee. Despite training camp as a whole at this level is rapid, the early indications are that things area going in the right direction in his new surroundings.
“Day one was good,” he concluded with. “It looks like we want to play fast, play hard and I’m just really excited to keep going.”