The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey writing staff. Our writers, plus a special vote from the readers, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked
Spencer Martin has what it takes to be an NHL goaltender. Picking up where he left off in 2015, Martin posted an 8-5 record, 2.21 GAA, and a .924 SV% to start the 2016 season prior to his many trips to and from Denver. He was first recalled by the Avalanche in late November when Varly went down with an UBI, though never got the nod to start until a few months later.
And Yes. You read that right.
Martin was finally given his first NHL opportunity on the road in San Jose on January 21st, 2017 where the Avs lost in Avalanche fashion 3-2 in OT. Being that it was his first NHL game, Martin looked like it was his 100th. He bottled up rebounds, stopped pucks for his defencemen behind the net and flashed the leather when necessary. Check out the highlights of that game below and you tell me if it looked like his first NHL game.
Cool. Calm. Collected. That is Spencer Martin.
Selected 63rd overall in the 3rd round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Martin was poised to make an immediate impact in the system. Ranked as the 5th best North American goalie prior to the draft, he was projected to land in the mid to late 2nd round. So when he fell to the Avalanche in the 3rd round, Sakic and company had figured they’d found a steal in the draft.
Sean Lafortune of Mckeen’s Hockey had this to say about Martin:
"A tall, butterfly-style goaltender with excellent agility and flexibility.. generally speaking, receives inadequate support from his blueline crew, yet frustrate shooters by routinely making highlight-reel saves - that he makes look easy due to his sharp reflexes and quick lateral movement...focuses on keeping his body square to the puck... demonstrates good fluidity and excellent push-off strength...will need to work on his mental toughness moving forward - as well as rebound management, as he kicks out some juicy ones straight back out, especially when moving laterally."
The Avalanche obviously wanted Martin to see more rubber last year, electing AHL veteran, Jeremy Smith, to backup Pickard for the remaining of the 2016-2017 season. This said a lot in what they see in Martin as the Avs value experience even with an inexperienced San Antonio team. Give him another year in the AHL and his time will come.
He’s already accomplished a few accolades in his short career. He earned a bronze medal for Team Canada in the 2012 IIHF World U18 Championship and a gold medal for the same team in the 2013 IIHF World U18 Championship. He was also invited to participate in the 2013 CHL Top Prospects game where he earned a shut out for Team Orr.
Martin has all the attributes to succeed in the NHL. He’s big, athletic, and quick. And only 21 years of age. He’s shown glimpses of excellence and figures to be the center piece of the San Antonio Rampage this season.
And with Varlamov signed for only 2 more years and Jonathan Bernier looked at as a 1-year rental, Spencer Martin’s path to the NHL is closer than it appears.