Calvin Pickard joins Toronto Maple Leafs depth chart
It seemed surprising when the Vegas Golden Knights picked up goaltender Calvin Pickard over the summer, only to waive him as soon as the regular season kicked off.
While he seemed to be an extra in Vegas’ system, though, he’s headed to a new home – where he may just be the next goaltender to slot in as number two in the depth chart.
It was announced on Friday afternoon, just shortly after Pickard cleared waivers, that the goaltender had been dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Tobias Lindberg and a sixth-round draft selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Pickard will head to the Maple Leafs after just two preseason appearances with the Golden Knights, where he was looking to get a fresh start following a disastrous 2016-17 campaign with the Colorado Avalanche. Upon the loss of Semyon Varlamov for the season, the Avalanche relied heavily on the inexperienced Pickard behind a struggling roster – which left the team without much-needed wins and Pickard without much support to get them there.
With the Maple Leafs, though, he could truly find his best fit.
Toronto is happy with starting goaltender Frederik Andersen, but their depth chart behind him has been considered inconsistent at best. Veteran backup Curtis McElhinney hasn’t been quite what the team hoped for, and aging prospect Garret Sparks has struggled to solidify himself as the team’s next promising option. If the Leafs have truly moved away from Sparks as a preferred option – and they aren’t confident that McElhinney can truly shoulder the backup load – then picking up Pickard, who has been significantly reigned in during his tenure in the NHL, could be an excellent choice.
For the Golden Knights, this is a bold choice, but unsurprising to those familiar with goaltending coach Dave Prior’s preferences. Given his admiration for newly-acquired Malcolm Subban’s game, it was almost expected that the team would clear up a space to give Subban more time to develop at the NHL level; this way, both Subban and Pickard get a new shot.