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Top 25 Avalanche Under 25: #17 Spencer Martin

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May 11, 2015


Today’s entry in our ‘Top 25 Avalance Under 25’ series sees the first of two goaltenders on the list, Spencer Martin, ranked #17. Coming in at 6’3″ and 200 pounds, Martin is the most physically prominent goalie in the Avalanche system. Only current goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Reto Berra come close to Martin’s size.

Who is Spencer Martin?

After being drafted by the Avalanche 63rd overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Martin returned to his OHL team, the Mississauga Steelheads. His first two seasons left much to be desired in what you’d like to see from a goaltending prospect. He averaged a .903 save percentage and 3.28 GAA during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 regular seasons. The playoffs weren’t much better for the Ontario native, averaging five goals against per game. 2013 was especially disastrous; in 90 minutes of play, he had given up nine goals.

One must consider, however, the amount of action he faced during those seasons. With a porous defense in front of him, Martin saw an average of 30 shots per game—one shot every 1.75 minutes. A constant barrage of rubber such as that is bound to wear down any goaltender, especially when he is taking on the brunt of the games for the season.

In a 68-game season, Martin manned the net for 46 of them in 2013-14 and a whopping 64 in 2014-2015. Accordingly, his talent was recognized in an OHL coaches poll in 2012-2013, receiving the top spot as the best Puck-Handling Goalie and second place as the best Shootout Goalie in the Eastern Conference

Last season fared much better for Martin. Again, he was in net in most of Mississauga’s contests and facing significant shots against. He posted a .921 save percentage and 2.98 GAA, receiving multiple honors as Goaltender of the Week throughout the season. Despite a season-ending injury on December 21, he again won the coaches poll as the best Puck-Handling Goalie and came in second as the best Shootout Goalie in the east. Even more impressive, he was a finalist for the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year award.

Analysts point to a need for development with positional strategy as a reason for Martin’s struggles. Hockey’s Future notes that Martin “seems to have it all – size, skills, speed, and technique” but that “he is prone to prolonged cold streaks due to his inability to have short term memory.”

Justin Goldman of the Goalie Guild also recognizes Martin’s size and frame as an asset, in addition to his athleticism and solid footwork, and sees positioning as an area for development. Fortunately, Avalanche goaltending coach, Francois Allaire—whose biggest strength is Martin’s biggest weakness—made monthly trips to Mississauga to work with the young goalie.

As highlights for OHL goaltenders are tough to come by, here’s a look at Martin during his draft season.


What is the future for Spencer Martin?

Martin had a rough appearance at the Avalanche rookie and training camps last season, something with which he needs to improve if he’s expecting to move from the OHL into the professional ranks. Coach Patrick Roy places a lot of emphasis on camp performance when making his decisions about where his players will be at the start of the season.

While Martin can return to the Steelheads for a final year in juniors, the young goaltender would most likely see better development by playing against tougher competition. Moreover, another season of backstopping a weak team will do little to improve his technique and might even damage his mental game.

Given the depth of Colorado’s goaltending prospect pool (Calvin Pickard, Sami Aittakallio, Roman Will, and Max Pajpach), Martin will be feeling tremendous pressure this fall to show his coaches that he can handle AHL talent. Realistically, unless the Avalanche make some major off-season trades, Spencer Martin should expect to find himself in the ECHL on the Ft. Wayne Komets roster to start next season.


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