The Vancouver Canucks are expected to place goaltender Spencer Martin on waivers today unless a trade materializes in the next few hours, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Martin, a candidate to compete for the backup job behind Thatcher Demko just a few weeks ago, was pushed down the team’s depth chart after the Canucks acquired Casey DeSmith in a trade with Montreal last week.
Even without acquiring DeSmith, the path to a roster spot in Vancouver for Martin wasn’t solid. After falling flat in his first shot at full-time NHL duties last season, many speculated that 22-year-old netminder Arturs Silovs may get the backup spot to start the season after a strong showing at the World Championship, guiding Latvia to a bronze medal. With DeSmith now in the fold, however, that point is moot, and both netminders are slated for AHL Abbotsford to start the season.
However, sending both netminders down will make for quite the crowded crease in Abbotsford. Vancouver also has Zach Sawchenko and Nikita Tolopilo signed to two-way contracts, plus 22-year-old Jonathan Lemieux is signed to an AHL contract for 2023-24. Lemieux is likely destined for assignment to ECHL Kalamazoo, but that would still leave four goalies competing for ice time at the AHL level. It’s clear why Vancouver would look to move on from Martin, the most veteran of the bunch at 28 years old.
Martin had been an AHL netminder for all of his pro career up until last season. A six-game stint near the end of 2021-22 with Vancouver earned him the upper hand on capturing the backup spot behind Demko to start 2022-23, going 3-0-3 in six starts with a sparkling .950 save percentage and 1.74 goals-against average. However, that momentum failed to translate when Martin did assume the backup role. He was arguably one of the worst netminders in the NHL last season – while his 11-15-1 record in 27 starts wasn’t awful, his .871 save percentage and 3.99 goals-against average fell far below the league average. To visualize it better, Martin conceded 27.5 more goals than the average NHL netminder would have given the same workload and shot volume.
That being said, he could still get some interest on the trade market from teams looking to fill a third-string-shaped hole on their goalie depth chart. The Columbus Blue Jackets come to mind with few options behind Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov, both of whom have recent injury histories. 130-game NHL veteran Aaron Dell is in camp on a professional tryout, however.