Calvin Pickard

Golden Knights lost more than just first game vs. Red Wings: Fleury goes to IR

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One of this early season’s best stories might have hit a serious snag.

The Vegas Golden Knights recently announced that Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault have been placed on IR. Goalie Maxime Lagace and forward Alex Tuch were called up from the AHL in their absence.

As this oddly adorable update notes, Erik Haula is also out of action, opening the door for intriguing KHL import Vadim Shipachyov:

This most likely opens the door for an intriguing storyline on Sunday: could we see Malcolm Subban face the Boston Bruins not that long after the team waived him?

That’s kind of fun, but seeing “The Flower” get injured is a tough pill to swallow after the Detroit Red Wings handed them their first-ever loss (6-3 on Friday). Even with that tough game, Fleury’s early Vegas numbers sparkle: 3-1-0 with a strong .925 save percentage.

Place that on top of being an early “face of the franchise” and this injury hurts. This was almost certainly the moment that Fleury got hurt. (Update: Sportsnet shared video of the event; see above this post’s headline.)

(In case you’re wondering, Lagace seems like a pretty marginal 24-year-old netminder, at least judging by a glance at his numbers at lower levels.)

If Subban has a rough Sunday, there might be a least a couple murmurs about the organization letting Calvin Pickard get lost in the shuffle, eventually falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade that felt like just a small step up from losing him for nothing.

It’s possible that Haula got hurt thanks to this fight with Tomas Tatar:

All things considered, it seems like the Golden Knights lost in more ways than one against the Red Wings on Friday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Pickard probably biggest loser in Maple Leafs – Golden Knights trade

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Curtis McElhinney may have a two-year contract in hand, but the Toronto Maple Leafs likely realize he’s only a stopgap at age 34. They made a move in possibly securing the future behind franchise goalie Frederik Andersen on Friday, acquiring Calvin Pickard in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights initially waived Pickard, as they had a three’s a crowd situation after claiming Malcolm Subban. Subban serves as Marc-Andre Fleury‘s backup, then.

Vegas’ takeaway in this trade is meager: Tobias Lindberg and a sixth-round pick in 2018.

Simply put, it seems like Pickard was the odd man out.

The road ahead for Pickard is pretty murky, as the Leafs announced that he’s headed to the AHL. Pickard, 25, likely slots in at third on the Toronto depth chart ahead of Garret Sparks.

This is shrewd move for the Maple Leafs, who gave up very little for Pickard. He somewhat surprisingly already cleared waivers alongside defenseman Martin Marincin, so the Maple Leafs can allow him to marinate with the Marlies.

And, boy, does this serve as quite a bum deal for Pickard.

Consider that, in 2016-17, Pickard played 50 regular-season games for the Colorado Avalanche. He struggled in that situation, but then again, so did the Avalanche. Historically so.

Even with that troubled run, Pickard has produced a .914 career save percentage in 86 NHL games, which argues that he’s at least too good to be in the AHL. He turned some heads in international play this summer, making an argument that Pickard could prosper on a more even playing field.

It’s not even that outrageous to ponder a best-case scenario where he’d be part of a productive “platoon.”

The Avalanche ultimately opted to expose Pickard in the expansion draft, yet it seemed like the netminder would still get a chance to be a backup. Fans of teams with struggling starters or goalies may soon wonder why Pickard didn’t get claimed on waivers today, too.

Instead, the Maple Leafs’ nice gain is Pickard’s clear loss, and there’s even a chance that he’ll face more turbulence in the future if he gets moved again. Overall, it’s a bad break for a goalie who showed some promise.

It’s also another testament to the challenges a goalie faces without a beefy contract.

Trade brewing? Golden Knights raise eyebrows by waiving Calvin Pickard

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In claiming Malcolm Subban off of waivers, the Vegas Golden Knights seemed like they might need to fight through a dreaded three-goalie situation, at least for some time.

That’s not the worst problem to have when it makes for a trio of Subban, Calvin Pickard, and starter Marc-Andre Fleury … but it also might not be a long-lasting issue.

There were more than a few bewildered faces (or intense stares?) when word surfaced that Vegas placed Pickard on waivers today. He wasn’t the only notable name, as the Toronto Maple Leafs did the same with Martin Marinicin:

So, what might happen next? And why did they do this?

It’s not completely intuitive that placing a goalie on waivers would make him easier to trade. Sin Bin Vegas sheds some light on why this could grease the wheels:

Interesting.

Sin Bin Vegas notes that this could allow a recall of Vadim Shipachyov. It’s also worth noting that, while he was placed on IR to start the season, James Neal apparently could come back soon. The Las Vegas Journal-Review’s Steve Carp seemed impressed with Neal during the morning skate.

So, maybe part of the plan is to trade Pickard. Perhaps management simply believes that it’s worth the waiver risk to get other skaters into the mix.

Either way, it’s an interesting situation. Subban making things crowded means that this wasn’t totally out of left field, but personally, it wasn’t necessarily anticipated, either.

Especially considering that there are at least some who are quite fond of Pickard.

Pickard, 25, struggled when pressed into action in 2016-17, yet few goalies would put up great numbers over 50 games with that abysmal rendition of the Colorado Avalanche. Despite those tougher times, he has a solid .914 save percentage so far in his brief NHL career.

Goalies are fickle beasts, and some believe that Pickard has potential. Depending upon how this shakes out, we might see more than a few Subban vs. Pickard comparisons down the line.

Anyway, should a team bite the bullet and grab him now? Is Subban worth it? There’s a lot to digest here.

Poll: Will the Golden Knights be the worst team in the NHL?

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This post is part of Golden Knights Day on PHT…

In professional sports, expansion teams usually don’t do so well in their first couple of years, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

Expansion teams have to pick up leftover players that other teams decide are expendable for a variety of reasons. Also, developing chemistry with 20-plus guys doesn’t happen over night, especially when other teams have been together for multiple years.

With all that being said, it’s easy to see why most of the hockey world expects the Golden Knights to struggle out of the gate.

General manager George McPhee did a relatively good job putting the roster together. He also managed to acquire two additional first round draft picks via trade.

There’s some interesting names on the roster. Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, David Perron, Vadim Shipachyov and Reilly Smith will be counted on to score goals, while Nate Schmidt, Jason Garrison, Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore will serve as important options on the blue line.

Between the pipes, the Golden Knights were able to get their hands on Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh. Fleury, who has three Stanley Cups on his resume, has already become the face of the franchise. Former Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard will serve as his backup.

The last time NHL had expansion teams was back in 2000-01, when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild came into the league. Believe it or not, neither team finished in the basement of the NHL standings. The Jackets finished 23rd of 30 in their first year, while the Wild finished in 25th position. By no means were those teams good, but they weren’t the worst teams in the league (the Lightning and Islanders were the two worst teams that year).

So, how many teams will be worse than Vegas this year?

The first team that jumps off the page in that regard has to be the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were just awful last year, and they didn’t do a whole lot to get better. If someone finishes behind the Golden Knights, it may very well be them.

The Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes and New Jersey Devils also have to be considered when talking about who can finish below the expansion side this year.

Alright, it’s your turn to have your say. Feel free to vote in the poll below and leave your opinion in the comments section, too.

Gallant thinks Golden Knights can ‘win and compete consistently’ during inaugural season

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What can we expect from the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18? No one really knows what they’ll look like once they hit the ice because they’ve never played together before.

Of course, the expectation is that they’ll be bad, which is fair considering the track record expansion teams have in pro sports. But are they gonna be “Colorado bad” or will they be able to hold their own more often than not?

“I knew we were going to have a pretty decent team, but the team was better than I thought,” head coach Gerard Gallant said, per NHL.com. “I thought we got better top-end players than I thought we’d get.

“So I think we did a real good job building our team. Is it good enough to win and compete consistently? I think it is.”

Through the expansion draft, Gallant’s team was able to find themselves a quality number one goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury and a relatively young backup in Calvin Pickard.

After parting ways with defensemen like Alexei Emelin and Marc Methot, the Golden Knights are left with solid options like Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Colin Miller, and veterans like Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa and Brayden McNabb. That’s a decent group for an expansion side.

Up front is where things get a little more complicated. They signed Russian free agent Vadim Shipachyov and picked James Neal, David Perron and Reilly Smith during the expansion draft, but they’re also light on scoring depth.

“There’s going to be issues,” added the Golden Knights head coach. “Some nights we’re going to have trouble scoring goals. You look at our roster, there’s a lot of good players. Are there any superstars there?”

It’ll be interesting to see how Vegas’ first year in the NHL will unfold under Gallant and general manager George McPhee’s watch.