Colorado Avalanche Loss of Pickard is Upsetting, Not Terrible

Mar 11, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Pepsi Center. The Senators won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at the Pepsi Center. The Senators won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Though losing goalie Calvin Pickard was upsetting to Colorado Avalanche fans, the team can absorb the loss.

Here is another guest post, this one by Brendan Jordan.

The Colorado Avalanche lost their prime backup goalie Calvin Pickard in the Expansion Draft. Although it was exciting being able to watch the Las Vegas Golden Knights select their brand new roster right in front of our eyes, it was a heartfelt loss for many Colorado Avalanche fans. Pickard spent most of last season as the team’s starter.

Calvin Pickard was drafted 49th overall in the 2nd round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. As the eventual starting goaltender after Semyon Varlamov’s season-ending groin injury, Pickard started in 50 games in the 2016-17 season. He won 15 games and had finished the season with a .908 save percentage and two shutouts. During the dumpster fire of a season that the Avalanche had in 16-17, those numbers are still quite impressive.

However, many Avalanche fans, like myself, were shocked by the Vegas pick. Others were angered or upset that GM Joe Sakic decided to protect Semyon Varlamov over Pickard with his complicating and consistent groin injuries.

However, losing Calvin Pickard really wasn’t a huge loss for the Avalanche. If we take a look into the Avalanche’s prospects and players in the minor league with the San Antonio Rampage, we can clearly see that goaltending is a surplus of ours.

Spencer Martin, who played three regular season games in 2016, showed a lot of promise and a lot of skill in areas that we haven’t recently seen in Avalanche goaltending. He can play the puck extremely effectively and has very slick and strong movements across the net. Personally, I feel the 22-year-old Martin should take over the backup position on the Avalanche for the 2017-18 season.

When Varlamov announced he would be having season-ending surgery on his groin, the Avalanche called up Jeremy Smith to back up Calvin Pickard for the remainder of the season. Smith picked up his first NHL win in ten games played. Although he wasn’t terrific, he showed promise as a key part of this Avalanche team. The 28-year-old goaltender in Smith showed that he can play well under pressure.

In 2016, the Avalanche selected goaltender Adam Werner in the 5th round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The 20 year old goaltender shows a lot of promise with his stats and the way he plays. Werner is a big guy at 6-foot-5-inches, 200 lbs. Last season with IF Björklöven of the Allsvenskan Swedish League, Werner posted a 2.98 goals against average in 25 games. For a young prospect and a 5th-round draft pick, those numbers are quite impressive. The Avalanche will likely sign him to an entry-level contract this next season.

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I, personally, think that with some good development, Spencer Martin and Adam Werner will battle it out for the starting spot in a few years, but as for now, the Avalanche should call up Martin permanently and have him play under Varlamov’s wing. Varlamov has proven time and time again that he is an elite goalie when he’s healthy. Avs fans can only hope that the surgery he had will solve his groin problems and have him playing like the former Vezina candidate he is.

With two years left on a $5.9 million dollar contract, the Avalanche were smart to protect Varlamov and not risk losing him for nothing. In Pickard’s case, his one-year $1.075-million dollar contract was one that the Avalanche were willing to gamble. With the talent that the Avs have in the back end, it was a smart gamble that they unfortunately lost. Losing Pickard opens up a new roster spot for our young goaltenders but unfortunately takes away a possible future starting goaltender from the Avalanche.

With 30 selections mixed in with over half a dozen trades, the Las Vegas Golden Knights selected their team that will compete in the Pacific Division in 2017-18. Along with Pickard, the Golden Knights selected two other goaltenders in J.F. Berube and veteran Marc-Andre Fleury. With no surprise, Fleury will likely be the starting goaltender for Vegas, and it’s predicted that Pickard will back him up. Perhaps being mentored by the three-time Stanley Cup Champion Fleury, Pickard will receive better development than he has under Varlamov with the Avalanche. But who knows?

Next: Avs May Have Hoped to Lose Pickard

On behalf of all Avalanche fans, we will greatly miss Calvin Pickard being in an Avalanche jersey. These last two years with him on the main roster were fantastic, and we couldn’t have asked for a better guy to take the role between the pipes. We all wish Pickard the best of luck in Las Vegas. He will always be our favorite Golden Knight.