Just because some other d-men also got bloated contracts does not make Martin's any more palatable. Certainly for $5M you would expect better things than being outplayed by almost every other d-man on the team. The fact that he cannot contribute on the PP and is a secondary contributor on the PK is especially troublesome. That withstanding, I would do cartwheels if Martin had a year like Garrison did last season.
26 times Paul Martin had a negative plus/minus for a game in 2011-12, and half of them (13) came by November 26th. +/- isn’t the be all end all, not suggesting that, but it does, in a raw fashion, show the amount of goals going in the right net and the wrong net. Martin had just an awful of a start to his season and he sort of bounced-back already from that when the ill-fated Martin/Michalek defensive pairing was split for good.
He’ll always have a fan target on his back, because he makes $5 million dollars and doesn’t hit anyone or lead the power play, but if the Pens ask Martin to do what he did last season (play 23 minutes a night against the other team’s best scorers) he’ll have some ups and downs. But he’ll perform better in that role than anyone else currently on the roster.
I’ve accepted Martin for the player he is and don’t expect the world. I’d settle for the same level of play he demonstrated from December to before playoffs, if he makes better mental decisions more consistently. As in, don’t pinch in far in the offensive zone, risking an odd-man break the other way. Multiply this times 100 if he’s out there with Letang, who’s prone not to be in a position to recover unless he has half the rink to skate down a breakaway and break it up, possibly taking a penalty in the process.
Every NHL defensemen makes a physical mistake now and then (i.e. can’t clear the puck out of the zone) and it ends up in your net. Especially when you play against such top competition. But Martin’s veteran enough and ought to be smart enough not to make (and repeat) many of the mental decisions that he makes in the course of a game.