The old saying, “You have to be good to be lucky”, couldn’t be any more true for the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Pickard. The 1992-born netminder has had a trying few seasons of hockey, but that luck very well may have changed on Tuesday.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had their fair share of battles through training camp, in making preparations for the beginning of the regular season Wednesday. The team traded away defenceman Connor Carrick to the Dallas Stars as the 23-man roster deadline approached.
The other point of concern was goaltending, but not in the way some may instinctively think. With four able goaltenders signed to one-way NHL contracts, the Leafs found themselves in somewhat of a bind. With the only option being to trade one or more of their goaltenders or risk losing them to Waivers, the Leafs did what they could to find a trading partner, but nothing arose.
After deciding to move on from 2017-18 backup Curtis McElhinney, 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche starter Calvin Pickard, and go with 2017-18 Calder Cup champion Garret Sparks as the number two guy, Toronto let McElhinney and Pickard ride the waiver wire. Unfortunately that experiment did not go over well for the Leafs or Marlies, as both goalies were claimed.
Following a 2017-18 campaign that saw McElhinney go 11-5-1 with a .934 save percentage and a 2.14 goals against average in 18 games, McElhinney was picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday. Winnipeg product Calvin Pickard, who went 21-9-1 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.31 goals against average in 33 games for the Marlies was claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers.
With a slew of goaltenders in Philly, Pickard will get another shot at proving his worth. Battling Brian Elliott, Petr Mrazek, Anthony Stolarz and Carter Hart will be a daunting task, but one that should carry many rewards for the now 26-year-old former second round draft pick. This decision by Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers may also hold negative connotations for fellow Manitoban netminder Jason Kasdorf, whose job security will be that much more unknown.
The Maple Leafs kick off the 2018-19 season with their home opener against the Montreal Canadiens live from Scotiabank Arena at 6:00 P.M. The game can be viewed live on Sportsnet.