Is Calvin Pickard’s One-Year Contract Suspicious?


Calvin Pickard of the Colorado Avalanche recently re-signed with the team on the terms of a one-year contract. Such a short contract term normally evokes questions. For example, when the Avalanche re-signed O’Reilly to his two-year deal — inking him until he would become a UFA — you could certainly feel his ties with the Avalanche slowly unraveling. However, with Pickard, things are different because even at the expiration of this one-year deal he will still be a restricted free agent.

Nonetheless, you still ponder what Calvin Pickard must have been discussing with his agent, and why it took so long to sign him. Fortunately, Pickard is still on a two-way contract, making his fate as the AHL starter in San Antonio seem absolute. Regardless, Pickard certainly must believe that he is NHL-caliber after last season’s remarkable performance in relief of Semyon Varlamov.

More from Avalanche News

And, it’s also entirely plausible that this played a role in the length of the contract that Calvin Pickard received. Any pro-athlete’s duty is to ensure that he has the utmost confidence in his abilities, and the continuous will to succeed at the highest level. So, it is only natural for Calvin Pickard to desire these same aspirations — playing at the highest level.

By reasonable manners of deduction, based on the aspirations of pro-athletes, I have come to two conclusions.

1.) Calvin Pickard surely must have influenced the contract talks, and asked for a one-year deal in hopes of quickening his path to becoming a No. 1 goaltender.

2.) The Colorado Avalanche already view him as a No. 1 net-minder; thus, they are hoping he shows it as their backup this year and are able to trade him when the opportunity strikes.

Either way it’s spun, the coin only lands two different ways: The Avalanche trade Pickard, Pickard re-signs again and becomes the Avalanche backup/spends more time in the AHL. I’m not even going to entertain the idea of Pickard commandeering Varlamov’s position as No. 1. Regardless of the outcome, the one-year contract still holds peculiarity in its own right.

Trading Calvin Pickard

This is the most likely scenario for the Colorado Avalanche and Calvin Pickard. First of all, Pickard must be hoping to overtake Reto Berra’s job in training camp and earn a spot as the Colorado Avalanche backup. In such a manner, he would also earn starts, and an opportunity to strut his stuff.

From here, there are two options:

1.) The Avalanche keep Pickard as their backup and try to deal Berra

2.) The Avalanche trade Pickard later in the season and acquire necessary return

The second one is more appealing, yet may not be the way things occur. Reto Berra is backup quality at best, more than likely higher end AHL quality, but he sports that expensive one-way contract. Calvin Pickard, on the other hand, has immense potential and he’s young, but he unfortunately wears a nice two-way deal.

Calvin Pickard is not satisfied with being a backup goaltender

There are a lot of teams in the league right now that struggle with quality goaltending, and they might take a kick at Pickard with only the 16 games of NHL experience, but I reckon they want some more scars before they go after him.

Nonetheless, I’m sure Calvin Pickard is not satisfied with being a backup goaltender, and Semyon Varlamov is the first-class ride on the Colorado Avalanche train for the next four years. So, the one-year deal is likely a combination of the two aforementioned conclusions. Pickard wants starter status sooner rather than later, and the Avalanche respect that, and are willing to give him a shot to earn it.

And there’s the kink in the whole shebang; he needs to earn the roster spot so that he gets a shot to prove that he can play at the NHL level. Even if he does earn the backup spot, and has a good year, are the Avalanche satisfied enough with Berra to trade Pickard?

Calvin Pickard becomes Avalanche Backup

Here’s where all the questions may stifle the outcome. If Berra does indeed “lose” (without the contract, it would already be lost) his job to Pickard, the Avalanche probably won’t want to trade Pickard, as he’s their viable relief option. However, Berra could benefit from a year in the AHL and prove to be backup worthy during the final year of his contract.

That’s why this decision between goaltenders is one of the most exciting battles to watch during training camp. Calvin Pickard is sure to push harder than ever to ensure his solid footing on the backup position. Similarly, Reto Berra will strive his hardest to salvage the remains of the footing he has left on his position as backup.

For the reasons mentioned in the previous heading, Pickard has every reason to cement his hold on the No. 2 position, and create the foundation for his ultimate desire. However, he could also prove that he is not ready for the task, earning a spot in the AHL until injury’s inevitable strike.

The Colorado Avalanche could also find that Reto Berra is incapable of performing the necessary duties for an NHL backup

Reto Berra’s contract is also a bit of an issue at hand. How could you justify sending someone who gets paid 1.45 mil/yr to the AHL? But, is the contract really that much of an issue? Here again Pickard’s one-year deal comes into play, providing for flexibility yet again.

According to Pickard is getting paid $850,500 next year at the NHL level, and $67,500 at the AHL level. That’s not very much less than Reto Berra’s contract, if he does spend most of his time at the NHL. Fortunately, the Avalanche have a lot of wiggle room in cap and can afford to take on the extra NHL salary, especially since Calvin Pickard’s contract expires next year.

Questions such as the ones listed above need answering…

Most Likely Scenario

Calvin Pickard will — barring any supernatural event — earn his spot as the backup next year. The Avalanche will, in turn, send Reto Berra to the AHL before waivers, while attempting to trade him during the year. It’s impossible to say where the scenario goes from here really.

The Colorado Avalanche could find that Berra is incapable of performing the necessary duties for an NHL backup and seize the opportunity to sign Pickard for another year.

The Avalanche could also find themselves in the unfortunate situation they found themselves in with O’Reilly, in that Pickard — after a good year tending the backup — seeks the top and will take the means necessary to achieve it.

These are all scenarios, but the most likely one is that Pickard will be traded after this year. Furthermore, the Avalanche will not be able to trade Berra during the season and will use him for one more year as backup while they try to find a more suitable option.

Pickard’s one-year contract still poses many questions, and you cannot help but ponder the many different answers. The trading of Pickard — after a great season as backup — would do wonders in return for the Avalanche, but only time will tell what really takes place.

What do you think will be Calvin Pickard’s ultimate outcome with the Avalanche? Let us know in the comments!

Next: The Importance of Calvin Pickard's 2015-16 season

More from Mile High Sticking