Calvin Pickard Must Use his Chance in 2015-16


The Colorado Avalanche signed goaltender Calvin Pickard to a one-year, $850,500 contract extension. It may give him a first real chance to prove that he belongs in the NHL — but it may also be his last one for now.

Pickard’s new contract is a two-way deal, with an AHL salary of $67,500, according to That means one important thing: as opposed to Reto Berra, who has a cap hit of $1.45 million for two more years, Pickard will be a very cheap AHL option.

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Calvin Pickard vs. Reto Berra will be one of the most important training camp battles come September. Last season, Pickard outplayed Berra when Avalanche starter Semyon Varlamov was injured. In 16 NHL appearances, he had an outstanding save percentage of .932.

Berra on the other hand, posted a save percentage of .918 in 19 games, while being incredibly inconsistent. That even resulted in Berra being sent down to the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters once Varlamov returned.

Disregarding contracts, it would probably be an easy decision to start Calvin Pickard as Varlamov’s starter, while sending Berra down to the AHL once more. However, contracts are a factor — and they are an important one.

According to, the Avalanche currently have $8.215 million in salary cap space, with 15 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies on the roster. Clearly, the Avs have enough room to send down Berra on his one-way contract. However, they also have to reduce the amount of forwards and perhaps defensemen on the roster.

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At the bottom of the depth chart, you currently find players like Marc-Andre Cliche, Patrick Bordeleau and Nate Guenin. Along with Berra, these three are the favorites to be sent down to the minors. Now, Avalanche management will have to make up their minds about how many one-way contracts they want to have in the AHL.

Even though it is technically possible under the NHL’s salary cap regulations, it always looks bad for a club’s management to have that many one-way contracts in the AHL. Not only that, but there is also that financial part for an NHL team, just like in any company. You don’t want to waste a ton of money on players that don’t even play for you.

What that means for Calvin Pickard is simple: play the best you can and convince the coaches that you are worth sending down a $1.45 million contract. If it was about nothing but performance, Pickard would easily have the edge right now. Too bad it isn’t.

If he doesn’t convince the coaches, though, he may spend the majority of the season in the AHL again. With Berra still under contract through the 2016-17 campaign, that could even mean that he doesn’t get a real chance in the NHL until 2017.

Calvin Pickard will be trying to make the roster out of training camp, forcing the Avalanche to send Reto Berra down to San Antonio. However, if he doesn’t succeed, he may have to hope for injuries to Varlamov or Berra, before he gets another shot at the NHL level.

Do you think Calvin Pickard will make the roster? Let us know in the comments!

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Next: Top 5 Avs Training Camp Battles

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