The Colorado Avalanche may have exposed Calvin Pickard intentionally so they could give Spencer Martin a chance at the NHL backup job.
There is quite literally no other way to make sense of the Colorado Avalanche exposing Calvin Pickard, other than coming to the conclusion that it must have been to make room for Spencer Martin.
Semyon Varlamov would have cost the Las Vegas Golden Knights another 5.9 million in cap hit along with Marc-Andre Fleury’s 5.75 million.
Sure, Vegas could have looked to move Varly for picks and prospects, but good luck considering he’s coming off two hip surgeries, and his save percentage has steadily declined in the last three seasons.
So, I’m going to go the route of tepid optimism. This could have been a calculated move for the development of Spencer Martin because he was just suddenly catapulted into the backup role.
Spencer Martin’s Development Plan Could Have Been the Goal
The Colorado Avalanche drafted Martin in 2013 with the second pick in the third round (63rd overall).
Martin is still only 22 years old, and he has definitely shown some potential signs of being a legit goalie in the NHL. Granted, his small stint in the NHL last year did not go well. However, he had a pretty good campaign in the AHL, and was even an AHL All-Star.
Nonetheless, he started to play terribly after returning to the AHL for further development because he clearly wasn’t ready for the NHL. Near the end of the season he returned to form though.
In the final 17 games he played in this past season Martin posted a .925 save percentage and a 3.17 GAA. In other words, he was seeing a lot of rubber and posted a valiant save percentage even with a less than desirable GAA. Anyway, he posted a 2.90 GAA and .904 save percentage in 50 games overall.
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In 18 games during the 2015-16 season, Martin was a stud though with a 2.65 GAA and .921 save percentage as a 20 year old. The potential is there in other words, and the next step in his development may be the NHL.
Hopefully he’s ready for a volatile backup role because if Varly goes down with injury again, Martin will suddenly be starting for the Colorado Avalanche, as it stands right now.
If Varly can handle the load of starting again then this could actually be a great situation for Martin to be in. He’ll be able to play 25-30 games or so and ease into the starter role eventually.
If Varly can stay healthy this may actually be the best scenario for the Avalanche to be in. Varly has two years left on his contract, and the Avs may be looking for a new starter by then.
The only way you groom starters in this league is by giving them a shot at the NHL level. Sure, there are outliers like Matt Murray who just step into a starter role, but they are few and far between.
The point is, Martin is at the age where he needs to start seeing NHL minutes. The Colorado Avalanche are also at the time where they need to see what they have in Martin. The only way that was going to happen was by either trading Varly, or exposing Picks, and hoping the Vegas Knights took him.
I’m going to miss Picks. He was a consummate teammate, a battler and looked to have a possible bright future as a starter in this league. Nonetheless, I will be curious to see what Spencer Martin does with his chance.
The Colorado Avalanche put themselves in a tough situation with this one. At this point, their goalie depth is pretty dismal. This almost guarantees them drafting a goalie now, and also finding one in free agency for their minor team at least, and possibly for their big club.
And, if Varly goes down with injury again, things are going to get even worse. However, if Varly is able to stay healthy this could be an interesting season of development for Martin.
Cross your fingers.