Martin wants to be Canucks backup goalie, but has competition with DeSmith's arrival

VICTORIA — A trade two days before the Vancouver Canucks started training camp appears to have limited goaltender Spencer Martin's chances of being Thatcher Demko's backup.

Canucks coach Rick Tocchet didn't mention Martin on Friday when asked about the team's goalie hierarchy, suggesting goaltender Casey DeSmith, who was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, will start the season backing up Demko.

"We acquired Casey DeSmith, who's obviously an NHL capable goalie," said Tocchet. "He's a very capable guy."

DeSmith, traded to Montreal earlier this summer as part of the three-team Erik Karlsson deal, played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, primarily as a backup goalie.

The Canucks sent forward Tanner Pearson and a third round 2025 draft pick to the Canadiens for DeSmith earlier this week.

Martin, 28, told reporters Friday he is looking to start the season in the NHL after the team sent him to the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Canucks last February.

"Since last February, I feel like I've been on a journey to get my game feeling as good as possible," he said. "I'm in better shape than ever. My goal is to come here and play in the NHL."

The Canucks have eight goalies at training camp, including starter Demko and Martin's Abbotsford teammate, Arturs Silovs, who starred in Latvia's historic bronze medal-winning performance at the world hockey championship.

Martin, who played 29 games with the Canucks last season, said his stint in the AHL and work with goaltending coaches over the summer improved his game technically and his mental approach.

"I feel a lot more comfortable coming in this year," he said.

Demko said the team will decide on the goaltenders, but acknowledged he reached out to DeSmith after the trade to the Canucks.

"Everyone has a job to do," he said. "The coach decides who plays."

Demko said that after a poor start last year and an injury that limited his playing time to 32 games, he's convinced "I can get through anything."

"That's how I looked at it," he said. "I had a bad 12 games in my career and it ended up with me having a serious injury that I worked through," he said.

Tocchet said he spent much of the second day of training camp focusing on team drills on the forecheck system and neutral zone play.

"I feel we really have to pay attention to detail," he said. "We're going to continue to do that until it's consistent. Until it is a habit. We're not there yet, but it's getting there."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.

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