May 11: The Lightning have officially announced the one-year, two-way contract with Martin.
May 3: There has been no shortage of goalie moves out of Tampa lately. After signing young keepers Hugo Alnefelt and Amir Miftakhov to entry-level contracts on Saturday and Sunday respectively, the team has yet another name to their 2021-22 stable. CapFriendly reports that the Lightning have signed Spencer Martin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $800K. Martin was set to be a Group 6 unrestricted free agent this summer, but will instead stay in Tampa Bay on a new deal that represents a raise at the NHL and AHL levels.
Martin, 25, has not played in an NHL game since 2016-17 and yet his extension comes as almost no surprise. The Lightning had little choice; the team needed another goalie signed beyond this season to expose in this summer’s NHL Expansion Draft in order to protect all-world starter Andrei Vasilevskiy. Of the numerous options to re-sign, Martin seemed like the most likely. Backup Curtis McElhinney, 37, may be done after this season after finally showing his age. Anders Nilsson, acquired this off-season, has been sidelined by an injury all season. Christopher Gibson was the other extension option alongside Martin, but the former Islanders third-string has spent less time with the organization and has a more open market interest, leaving Martin as the more likely name to serve as expansion fodder.
That’s not to say that Martin doesn’t have value in his own right though. The 2013 third-round pick has served as a starter in the AHL for a number of years and has produced consistent numbers in net. That pro experience, including three NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche, makes him a useful mentor to Alnefelt and Miftakhov in the minors as well as in a third-string capacity. The Lightning will likely seek a new backup this summer, but could reward Martin for his loyalty and willingness to help the organization with the expansion draft by finally giving him another NHL shot before too long.