Colorado Avalanche Will Lose Pickard in the Expansion Draft

Feb 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche chose to expose goalie Calvin Pickard in the Expansion Draft, which means he may be the next backup goalie for the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The Colorado Avalanche have chosen to protect veteran goalie Semyon Varlamov over young — and cheaper — netminder Calvin Pickard. Guest writer Mika Tuukkanen doesn’t agree with this decision.

The following graph shows the stats of the two goalies since the #WhyNotUs-season, 2013-14:

V13-1492,70 %2,4173 %6365 %
V14-1592,10 %2,5658 %5749 %
V15-1691,40 %2,8144 %5747 %
V16-1789,80 %3,3848 %2423 %
VAVG91,50 %2,7956 %5046 %
P14-1593,20 %2,3569 %1638 %
P15-1692,20 %2,5662 %2035 %
P16-1790,40 %2,9844 %5030 %
PAVG91,93 %2,6358 %2934 %

There you can see that Pickard constantly has better save percentage and smaller goals against average. Even when the whole Avalanche team collapsed in front of him, he could perform with somewhat decent numbers. So why did we let the younger, potential future starter be taken for nothing?

Pickard is not as proven as Varlamov, but Varly has not been consistent in years. He still has some days where he can save the team all by himself, but those are rare and we should not build our team around a goalie who may or may not be elite on any given day.

Here at Mile high sticking I’ve read comments about there being better goalies up for grabs. That is true. The problem is that Las Vegas will be choosing a minimum of 3 goalies. I went through all the teams and chose the most likely player taken at each position. For this I used the expansion draft tool at

There were so many players whom I barely new by name, so I helped myself a bit by looking at stats from This means my simulation is not exactly the most accurate, but it will give you the guidelines who might be taken at the current situation, meaning no trades have been done and almost all players with NMC will be protected.

In my choices, I preferred younger players instead of older, slightly better ones. Vegas will not be competing that fiercely yet for the Stanley Cup, or even a position in the post season, so it is better to aim for the future. I still chose some veteran players to bring some leadership, stability and experience in the line-up.

Expansion draft simulation. I write this assuming no trades will be done. Protected players chosen by CapFriendly expansion draft tool. Final update added 13.6.
Possible choisesFinal choise
ChicagoCarruthVan RiemsdykKrugerKrugerf
Los AngelesCampbellForbortShoreShoref
New JerseyKinkaidLovejoyNoesenBrownf
NY IslandersHalakDe haanPrincePrincef
NY RangersRaantaHoldenGrabnerGrabnerf
PhiladelphiaStolarzDel ZottoWealDel Zottod
San JoseDellSchlemkoTierneyTierneyf
St LouisHuttonBortuzzoPaajarviSobotka(4)f
Tampa BayBudajDotchinNamestnikovNamestnikovf
1, CF left Andrigetto unprotected, but I think that won’t be likely, so put Grigs on the list instead
2. Originally CF left Murray unprotected, but now, as expected, news has come that Fleury has waved his NMC.
3. Shattenkirk was not protected, but he certainly will be.
4,5, I needed to add a little salary, so I chose a more expensive player.

There is an abundance of capable defencemen. What really stands out is the lack of capable forwards. This means there is a chance we well lose Grigorenko, but I would not count in it.

The best starter taken is goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He has been the Pittsburgh Penguins’ starter for years. His position has taken a hit with sudden occurrence of Matt Murray. He, despite the young age of 23, has shown already to be a solid starter, no matter what the situation. A great showcasing of his poise was his performance at the final game of 2017 playoff run. He did not let a single goal in, while one got past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne and then one empty netter to seal the cup to Pittsburgh again.

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Fleury is a veteran goalie at the age of 32. This means Las Vegas will need a replacement in a few years. Lucky for them there are those available in the draft. Best candidates are Raanta, Bernier, Korpisalo, Grubauer and Pickard. Raanta has put good numbers for the past few seasons, but he is 28 years old so he may not be the first option for the future. Bernier may not be a future starter and he is not quite the youngest possibility.

That leaves us with Grubauer, Pickard and Korpisalo. Grubauer has the best numbers from the two, but he plays with by far the best team of the three. From the three I would say Korpisalo has the best potential, since he is putting up good numbers on a mediocre team at the age of 23, but Pickard is only two years older and he has more experience in NHL.

When it came to choices, I needed to consider what other players the team have on offer to the draft. Washington has a good defenceman in Schmidt, but the Avs have depth in Barberio and we are still not seeing the potential with Grigorenko. Columbus has a veteran d man in Johnson, but his play seems to be in a bit of a decline. With these three combined, the chosen prospects and backups are Pickard and Korpisalo.

As we know from the Colorado Avalanche’s protected list, Pickard was not protected. Therefore I expect the Avs to continue with Varlamov next season as the starter. Most likely they will need to hire a new backup goalie in free agency.

To my minnd, another thing that is a sign for the departure of Pickard, was the leak that Columbus send their first-round pick to protect their otherwise unprotected players. I have no doubt, that Korpisalo would not be a player they wanted to keep as their future starter.

Next: 3 Issues to Address in the Offseason

Editor’s note: Thank you, Mika, for bringing up an excellent analysis. I fear you’re right and the Colorado Avalanche will lose Calvin Pickard in the Expansion Draft.

Remember, Avs Nation, DM me on Twitter or Facebook if you’re interested in doing a guest post — or applying — for Mile High Sticking.