Amidst ongoing issues with their goaltending, the Hurricanes looked to the waiver wire for support, claiming Spencer Martin from Columbus on Friday. The move comes at a time when two of their goalies are out with injuries, one has struggled with confidence, and the fourth has about 15 minutes of NHL experience.
Martin, 28, was a 3rd Round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in the 2013 Draft, making his NHL debut with the Avalanche in 2017. He spent a few more years in the AHL, was non-tendered by the Avalanche, and signed with the Lightning before being traded in 2021 to the Vancouver Canucks in a three-team deal for future considerations. Martin started 27 games for the Canucks last season, going 11-15-1 with a 3.99 GAA and .871 save percentage.
With the Canucks acquiring Casey DeSmith in the offseason to back up Thatcher Demko, Martin was placed on waivers in September by the Canucks, and was picked up by the Columbus Blue Jackets. It has been a tough season thus far, going 3-8-1 in 13 appearances, with a save percentage of .887. Even with Elvis Merzlikins wanting to leave Columbus, the Blue Jackets felt they needed to place Martin on waivers, allowing the Canes to scoop him up.
Was this the flashiest move the Canes could've made? Not at all. Will this move be the one to save the team? I doubt it. Was it a good move for the team? Absolutely, it was. For starters, it provides depth in the absence of Frederik Andersen and Pyotr Kochetkov. Antti Raanta has turned his game around since being waived before Christmas, but having another NHL-tested goalie in case something goes wrong is never a bad thing.
Arguably, the most important aspect is that he's a cheap option. The Canes got him for nothing. His cap hit is lower than Yaniv Perets's. If he plays well, it'll look like a brilliant move from the front office. If he doesn't, the team can put him on waivers and look around the league at other options.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a waiver acquisition from a few years ago that happened to go smoothly for the Hurricanes. In 2018, with Scott Darling getting hurt right before the season, the Hurricanes picked up Curtis McElhinney after being waived by Toronto. He had a great season with Petr Mrazek and saw some time during the postseason also. I'm not saying this is destined to work, but there is a precedent.
There is always a chance that this move doesn't pan out, and if that's the case, it's not a big deal. I've liked Antti Raanta's game recently, but it's good to have a decent option backing him up. Welcome to Raleigh, Spencer Martin. Congrats on becoming a Hurricane!