On the night where Jaroslav Halak allowed five goals on 12 shots while triggering his $1,250,000 bonus, it was a very different look in the AHL Canucks’ crease.
Spencer Martin’s strong NHL play is still fresh on Canucks fans’ minds and his strong play in the AHL continued on Wednesday night.
“The goal is to continue to work hard and gain confidence as we go towards the postseason, wherever I’m at,” said Martin as he spoke to media just minutes after notching his second shutout of the season.
Martin played some of the best hockey of his career during his small NHL stint just two weeks ago. He saved 113 of the 118 shots he faced over three games — good enough for a .958% save percentage.
Even with the strong play in the NHL, Martin told media that the AHL was where the work was being done to bring him success in the NHL.
“I think that it was more building confidence here [in Abbotsford],” said Martin. “Then going and carrying it to the NHL and now just trying to continue to win games here in Abbotsford. As far as building confidence through my season — that’s the goal.”
Confidence is key for a goaltender and from the looks of Wednesday’s NHL and AHL starters, you can see polar opposites.
Martin is having faith shown in him and he spoke about how amazing the move to the Canucks’ organization has been for him to grow as a goalie.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said Martin. “I didn’t know what to expect. When you switch organizations everybody is different, as far as staff, different teammates and different coaches but so far it’s been as good as I could have imagined. It’s been really been a big time of evolution for my game to work with these goalie coaches. It’s more than just a few little things too. I had fewer games to play at the beginning of the year so I was able to basically practice and buy into their system, both Curtis Sanford and Ian Clark. I’m just trying to come in every day and let them know that I’m ready to work hard so that they can give me whatever’s next for my game.”
With Jaroslav Halak having a no-move clause in his contract, it makes it tough to move him to open a spot for Martin in the NHL. On top of that, he has now engaged $1,250,000 of his $1,500,000 bonus on top of his $1,500,000 cap hit. The final $250,000 of the $1,500,000 is awarded if Halak holds a minimum of a .905% save percentage, which it is currently under after allowing five goals on 12 shots.
Basically, if the Canucks can find a trade for Halak, any return is a good return if they are willing to take on the bonuses in his contract.
Martin is a serious option to be Thatcher Demko’s backup next season and to find out if that is a true possible scenario, Martin needs to see more NHL action this year. He has seen a massive improvement in his game with the two goalie coaches in this organization and wants to continue to work with the two smart goalie minds.
As for Martin’s return to the NHL, it’s likely not going to happen with Halak on the roster. The no-move clause prevents Halak from being sent down to the AHL. The only way that we could see more Martin starts would be if the Vancouver Canucks ran with three goalies on their roster.
There is nothing in a no-move clause that says a player/goalie can’t be a healthy scratch.
The Canucks would be wise to see some more Martin starts to see if his strong play was a flash in the pan or could be used on the back burner to help Demko out next season.
Halak trade or not, the Canucks should be trying for some more Spencer Martin starts before the season is over.