For many prospects, the Islanders 2010 Mini Camp provides them with their first real taste of what it's like to play hockey for a professional organization. Matt Martin
, on the other hand, is practically a seasoned veteran attending his third camp.
"It's been a lot fun so far," said Martin, who was selected in the fifth round, 148th overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. "This is my third camp now, so I'm a lot more relaxed than I was in my first couple. You see people come from all over the world to come to this camp and everyone gets to know each other. It's nice to see the different personalities and characters all around."
As the most experienced camper, Martin was able to offer some advice to the first-time attendees.
"Just have fun with it really, I mean, I didn't really enjoy it as much as I should have [my first year]. I was really nervous. I was a big bundle of nerves actually," Martin said. "So just have fun, they aren't here to make the New York Islanders right now. The point of the camp is to get to know the city and to get to know the players."
But Martin already knows most of the players. Last season he made his professional debut with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, playing 76 regular season games and tallying 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points.
"It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot," Martin said about playing in Bridgeport. "My assistant coach [Matt Bertani] and I worked a lot with my skating after practices. It's one of my biggest weaknesses so we are trying to turn that into one of my strengths. As soon as I can get that down pat it should all go down well from there."
Martin made his NHL debut with the Islanders on February 9, 2010 versus the Nashville Predators, tallying his first career NHL points with two assists. He played five games in total for the Islanders last season.
"It was unbelievable; it was a dream come true," Martin said about playing in the Nassau Coliseum. "Some of the guys out there like Doug Weight, you watch them when you grow up."
"I didn't get that much of a chance to enjoy it because I was a big bundle of nerves," the forward continued. "I was just trying to get through the game, but after the game I went home and watched it on TV and realized that I kind of accomplished my dream a little bit. I mean it's just a start. I kind of just have to take it in stride."
Martin is looking to take the next step in his professional career this coming season by possibly sticking with the Islanders.
"I'm looking forward to another opportunity to crack the line up. I think last year I got pretty close. I got my first season of pro hockey out of the away and I learned a lot last year. I just want to come in and make an impression this year and hopefully, all goes well."
So far, Martin is on the right track and his improvement hasn't been overlooked by Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon.
"He's a good example for all of our guys," said Gordon. "Our reports were always that he was working with [Bridgeport's assistant coach] Matt [Bertani] every day. It's a resource we have that he took advantage of and when it's all said and done, he's going to be rewarded for it."
Working with Bertani has really paid off.
"I think most of the strides he made on improving his skating happened in the first half of last year," Gordon said. "You can see that he just skates with a lower center of gravity, he's stronger on his feet, I think he's become a more powerful skater and that's obviously important when you're as big as he is to have more jump than he did last year and strength on his feet. His acceleration has improved."
So will we see Matt Martin
in the Islanders lineup this season? According to Gordon, it's a possibility.
"Well as far as I'm concerned, he's done everything he can to prepare himself," Gordon said. "So it's all going to come down to the camp that he has and the confidence that we'll have with his ability to step in and play."