Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads has been virtually the unchallenged number one netminder available for the 2013 NHL Draft among Ontario Hockey League goaltenders. He’s topped my list since the preseason and has held onto it ever since. Martin also tops NHL Central Scouting’s list among OHL goaltenders and is also number one on TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s survey of NHL scouts.
Charlie Graham of the Belleville Bulls came into the season at number three on my rankings. With Graham, it was a question of whether he would get enough starts to push his rankings up. Once number one goalie Malcolm Subban joined Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, it was time for Graham to showcase himself. Graham has done that and more and will continue to see ice time down the stretch as Subban rests for the playoffs.
Graham was ranked fourth on Central Scouting’s list of OHL goaltenders and didn’t appear on Bob McKenzie’s list as it only covered the top 60 players available from anywhere. It should also be noted that those rankings took place during the World Junior Championships and Graham’s body of work hadn’t been completed yet.
The two met head to head for just the second time this season on Friday night in Mississauga. The prior meeting was Graham’s second start of the season where he was pulled after 40 minutes after allowing 4 goals on 20 shots. Martin on the other hand, stopped 25 of 26 shots en-route to a 6-1 victory. That was way back on October 24, 2012.
Fast forward to yesterday and there’s a different tale to tell. Both goaltenders were spectacular when they had to be. Martin stopped 31 of 32 shots while Graham stopped all 37 he faced and was named the game’s first star after leading Belleville to a 1-0 lead.
Both were at their best while their team played a man down. Belleville was able to convert on 1 of 7 opportunities while Graham stymied the Steelheads on all 5 of their chances. Graham was beaten once but video review showed the puck was batted in with a high stick and therefore called off. Martin’s lone blemish came off the stick of Daniil Zharkov on the powerplay and it’s one that he probably would like to have back.
It’ll be interesting to see where Graham is ranked on Central Scouting’s final rankings and whether he can crack Bob McKenzie’s list. Right now, Martin still holds down top spot for myself, but the gap has narrowed significantly over the past month.