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Martin’s Future As The Canucks’ Backup

Trent Leith / April 11, 2022  

The Canucks have struggled in the last couple of years to find a goaltending tandem that they could trust, and that didn’t have future implications on the cap. Now though, the Caunucks seem to have put themselves in a position where that may no longer be a problem. On April 8th, 2022 the Canucks signed Spencer Martin to a two-year, one-way deal, that puts Martin in the position to be the Canucks’ backup goaltender moving forward. 

Vancouver Canucks GM Patrik Allvin said in a press release, “We’re pleased with the success Spencer has had this season, not only in the American Hockey League but also during his stint with Vancouver earlier this year. He has been very reliable for Abbotsford, contributing greatly to their Calder Cup Playoff berth earlier this month, and has shown an ability to perform in high-pressure situations.” 

His Performance in Vancouver

Martin was called up to the Canucks when Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak entered the NHL’s COVID protocol and left the team with no netminders. Martin stood tall despite being thrown right into the fire playing the Florida Panthers in his first start in five years. At the time the Florida Panthers were tearing teams apart, they were averaging 5.7 goals a game in the ten outings prior to facing Martin.

The Canucks played the Panthers ten days prior and got outclassed 5-2, but when Martin stood in, the offensive juggernaut was held to only one goal in regulation, no goals in overtime and the Canucks only lost in the shootout. 

“I felt incredibly blessed just to know how hard it is to get to this level,” Martin mentioned after his first game back in the NHL “it felt incredible to get an opportunity”

Martin would go on to start three games for Vancouver this season ending with a record of 1-0-2. While that record may not seem to jump off the page, you have to keep in mind the Canucks were going through a COVID outbreak and missing much of their lineup. Either that or players were only just recently returned from the respiratory illness. Martin faced off against the league-leading Panthers, two of the greatest offensive players of this generation on the Edmonton Oilers and he got his first win against the then heavy, Winnipeg Jets. 

His Time With Abbotsford

Martin was acquired in July from the Tampa Bay Lighting for nothing, well technically future considerations, but that is the NHL’s way of saying nothing. He was brought into the Canucks organization with the expectation of being AHL depth and came fifth on the depth chart. In less than a season he has moved all the way to third, and even arguably second if it wasn’t for Halak’s NMC. 

Spencer Martin leads the Abbotsford Canucks in both SV% and GGA with 0.916 and 2.41 respectively in his 24 starts. While Micahel DiPietro and Arturs Silovs may have a higher upside, Martin (26) is farther along in his development and serves better as a backup right now than the other two, who are only 22 and 21 with lots of road in front of them to develop into NHLers. 

What To Expect Moving Forward

The Canucks have signed Martin to a very team-friendly deal that will see Martin making the league minimum of $750K next season and $775K the following season. A low-cost, team-friendly deal like this is exactly what the Canucks needed. 

The Canucks are in their final year of the Roberto Lungo recapture penalty that will see the Canucks gain $3,035,212 in cap space, but will immediately eat up that space for next season with Holtby’s buy out of $1.9M and Halaks bonuses of between $1.25M and $1.75M depending on how his season plays out. 

Martin will be leaned on to win a handful of games next season if the Canucks look to make a postseason berth. But he should not be expected to be a 1B goalie like Holtby or Halak may have been expecting to be. Martin will be maybe the first true backup this team has had in years. There is no expectation for him to develop into a starter or challenge for the crease, there are no expectations for Martin beyond being a serviceable backup, and that’s perfect for the Canucks. 

If the Spencer Martin signing does not work out, it’s a contract that is very easily buried in the minors and there is no major risk for the Canucks. This signing leaves the door open for guys like Silovs or DiPietro to challenge for starts in the NHL, but it also leaves the Canucks in the position that they don’t need to expect their younger netminders to need to push for that NHL role if they aren’t ready.

This is a low-risk, cost-effective bet, and it’s one that should be universally praised by Canucks fans.