The Blue Jackets added to their goaltending depth on Friday by claiming goaltender Spencer Martin off of waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.
Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round (#63 overall) at the 2013 NHL Draft, Martin has struggled to find footing at the NHL level full-time. He’s spent the last two seasons in the Canucks organization, bouncing between the NHL Canucks and the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks.
Two seasons ago, he posted a sparkling .950% save percentage, 1.74 goals against average, and 3-0-3 record in six NHL games. But he fell off a little bit behind a struggling Vancouver team this past season. In spite of playing in 29 games, his save percentage dipped dramatically to .871%; while his goals against average ballooned to 3.99. Martin is a veteran of eight professional seasons, mostly spent in the American Hockey League. He’s in the final year of his contract, with an AAV of $800k against the cap.
The Jackets were destined to make some sort of move to shore up their goaltending, and they get that done by picking up Martin for virtually nothing. Incumbent starter Elvis Merzlikins will almost certainly get the lion’s share of the workload; but the backup situation is a bit more murky. Former top prospect Daniil Tarasov is slated to serve as his backup this season, but he has yet to participate in training camp due to another knee injury.
After those two, the Jackets were down to AHL’s Cleveland Monsters starter Jet Greaves; and a player who bounced between the AHL and ECHL last season, Pavel Cajan. Unrestricted free agent invitee Aaron Dell has been at camp competing for a contract, but he’s 34 years old and probably isn’t suited for more than spot duty. By adding Martin, the Jackets get a bigger frame guy who is younger, and may be able to step up and take on a heavier workload from time to time.
At the very least, as the team acquiring him off of waivers; the Jackets have the option to keep him demoted to the AHL level until they figure out their situation in goal – mainly, Tarasov’s injury status. By picking him up for nothing, they’ve added to the overall depth and quality of the goaltending in the organization.