Colorado Avalanche goaltending prospect Spencer Martin has no pressure on him at training camp. Sure, the 63rd overall draft pick wants to make a good impression, but that doesn’t mean he’s losing sleep during his second preseason stint with the Avs.
It’s just that, while other skaters are fighting for a roster spot, facing the uncertainty of where the next season might be played or whether the dream of making an NHL roster is within reach, Martin is soaking up as much knowledge as he can from goalkeeper legend Patrick Roy and renowned goalie coach Francois Allaire.
Goalie - COL
GAA: 3.54 | Sv%: .899
“I just worry about stopping pucks and getting better because that’s what we’re doing here. I know I’m going back to junior this year, so I’m just gaining a lot of good experiences and I’m enjoying it,” said Martin during rookie camp. “Patrick Roy
. Craig Billington
. It hasn’t sunk in even a year later. Although it is a business, it’s still a dream come true working with them every day. It’s very special. I don’t take it for granted, ever.”
Drafted in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Martin makes sure it isn’t all about himself at Avalanche Training Camp. He keeps an eye on some other players as well.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends through this organization,” said Martin. “I’m more focused on myself and what I’m doing, but seeing guys like those I was drafted with—obviously Nathan MacKinnon, Chris Bigras, and Mason Geertsen—it’s exciting seeing them kind of grow up together. It’s fun.”
Martin spent the last year playing with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League, working with Allaire to improve different facets of his game.
“There’s definitely some areas of my game, technically, that working with Francois has changed, and it’s improved my game. That’s exciting for me, having an awesome influence like that. It’s pretty lucky at this age to have him improving me. I’m excited to let that play out this season,” said Martin, who appreciates being in the Avalanche’s system. “It’s been a blessing really to be part of the organization, to get to work with experienced guys like that. I feel like I’m getting better every day and adjusting.”
“All throughout the year, I got to work with the Colorado Avalanche goalie coaches. They’d come out to practices. As far as adjusting to new techniques, I feel that I’ve come a long way, bringing it from practices with them into games. It went well and I look forward to bringing that again this year.”
Martin and the Steelheads had a trying season, squeaking into the playoffs as an eighth-place seed before being swept in the first round by the Oshawa Generals. Regardless of the outcome, Martin was named team MVP and led the OHL in both games and minutes played, speaking to the work he put in.
The experience he gained was invaluable and helped him learn and grow, both as a leader and a netminder.
“It was a good season. We had a really young team. It was a good opportunity for me to work on my leadership skills and become an older guy, even though I was only a mid-range aged guy in the OHL,” said Martin. “I enjoyed leading, on and off the ice. It was a good opportunity. We finished a little earlier than anybody wants to, but this year we’re coming back as a strong team.”
Martin will complete his second camp with the Avalanche, learning and developing even more, before he returns to Mississauga for his third campaign. While he was anxious during his camp debut in 2013, this year is more exhilarating for the 19-year-old puck stopper.
“It’s a different mindset coming in. Last year I was maybe a bit more nervous. This year I’m nervous but excited. I’m really looking forward to showing my stuff,” Martin said at the start of camp. “I feel I’ve had a really good summer, a really good season of training. I’m excited to let the results show. All the hard work is done so I’m excited for the results.”