Spencer Martin is a different species. A dawg as it were. This is something that Canucks fans have come to learn over the past 365+ days. Although he’s not the most spectacular goaltender to ever come through Vancouver’s organization over the years, he’s provided something incredibly valuable for the Canucks, at both the National and American Hockey League levels; consistency.
Spencer Martin appreciation post. pic.twitter.com/olxv3BTC0X
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 9, 2022
In July of 2021, the Vancouver Canucks acquired the then twenty six year old netminder from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for future considerations. The Canucks management system, at that time led by General Manager Jim Benning, brought Martin into the organization to be a fifth string goaltender, behind Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak for the big team in Vancouver, along with Michael DiPietro and Arturs Silovs with the American Hockey League in Abbotsford.
The journey began in Abbotsford on October 30, 2021, when the “Baby Canucks” hosted the San Jose Barracuda at Abbotsford Centre. Martin got his first start in a Canucks sweater (Fun Fact: The writer of this article was actually the PA Announcer that night) there, and didn’t look back, going 5-0-2 in his first seven games with the Abby Canucks, with a 2.24 GAA, a .921% save percentage, and one shutout, effectively leapfrogging over Arturs Silovs in the depth chart. Then came the fateful “Canucks COVID stretch” of January 2022, where nearly half the team tested positive for the Coronavirus. This included both Thatcher Demko and Jaro Halak, basically eliminating Vancouver’s goal crease in one foul swoop. The decision was made to call up and ride Spencer Martin until either Demko or Halak were available to return between the pipes. His first start for the big club in Vancouver, and first start in the National Hockey league in nearly five years, came on January 21 against the first place Florida Panthers. Vancouver lost two to one in a shootout, but Martin was named as the first star of the game, making thirty three saves in the defeat. He followed that up with forty seven saves in the 3-2 Overtime defeat to Edmonton four days later, before finally picking up his first career NHL win on January 27th, making another thirty three saves in a 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets before being reassigned to Abbotsford. This callup was the beginning of a crazy run which saw Spencer Martin go undefeated in regulation in the National Hockey League, going 9-0-4 in thirteen starts with Vancouver.
Shoutout to Spencer Martin tonight with a 47-save performance 👏 pic.twitter.com/lWYkiE8jhu
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 26, 2022
Martin’s great play in short stint in Vancouver, along with his consistently great play in the American Hockey League with the Abbotsford Canucks, helped further him up the depth chart, as he jumped over Mikey DiPietro on the charts, as Martin had firmly earned the starters net in Abbotsford, as well as the adoration of every fan that walked into Abbotsford Centre, cemented as one of the most popular players on the team.
During the off season this past summer, when General Manager Patrick Allvin and company were deliberating on what to do with certain positions, overlooking the defense in the process, but one of the decisions made was to promote Spencer Martin one more time, as he was basically placed in the back-up role behind Thatcher Demko with the main club in Vancouver. This is where things truly get interesting.
Thatcher Demko did not have a good start to the 2022-23 National Hockey League season. This is not a controversial opinion, he’d probably have it as well. Struggling to find his game behind a porous Canucks defense through the first ten games, Demko stumbled out to a 1-8-2 start in the first month of the season, leading to coach Bruce Boudreau to start to turn towards the backup goaltender. Martin began getting starts, and he was winning. Consistently. And even in the games the Canucks didn’t win, he’d manage to drag them to Overtime so they could still salvage the “losers point”. He’s not spectacularly flashy. He’s not the second coming of Dominik Hasek. But man, he can make the big save when you need it, he can hold down the fort for the Canucks, and he’s been the go to option for Bruce Boudreau and the Coaching Staff.
Spectacular save by Spencer Martin as he reads Makar's pass perfectly and robs Toews. #Canucks pic.twitter.com/Dm1WrtkmMO
— Lachlan Irvine (@LachInTheCrease) November 24, 2022
Martin has a fantastic 6-1-1 record in his eight starts this season, picking up two thirds of Vancouver’s wins so far this season. Obviously, that’s Thatcher Demko’s net. As soon as his game returns to form, to where both he and the Canucks want and need it to be, he’ll take back the crease and be Vancouver’s #1 goaltender, but until then… That’s Spencer Martin’s net. You always want to play the players that give your team the best chance to win on any given night. That includes your goaltender, and in a race back into the playoff race, the Vancouver Canucks need to ride the hot hand, and that is 100% without a shadow of a doubt Spencer Martin at the moment, and Boudreau’s choices have shown that. Martin got the “difficult” starts on Vancouver’s last road trip, taking down formidable opponents in the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche, and the Pacific Division leading Vegas Golden Knights, while Demko got the lighter load, the second half of a weekend back to back which saw them take on the lowly San Jose Sharks. The Canucks won all three games on the trip, but who was between the pipes for which game was certainly telling, even if only for the short term.
It’s truly been a wild sixteen month for Spencer Martin, not playing an NHL game in four years, coming from the system of back to back defending Stanley Cup Champions in the Tampa Bay Lightning to a lower to middle of the pack organization in the Vancouver Canucks. Being acquired to be the 5th string goaltender, there just in case somebody got hurt. Then he played his rear end off, took every opportunity that was given to him and ran with it, climbed the depth chart, and is now, even if only for a brief moment in time, a starting goaltender in the National Hockey League.
That’s pretty awesome, if you ask me.