Late Sunday night, TSN’s Frank Seravilli broke news that goaltender Calvin Pickard and the Detroit Red Wings agreed to terms on a two-year contract.
Pickard, a former 2010 second-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche, split the 2018-19 season between the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes. Now, he’ll get the chance to compete with Jonathan Bernier for Detroit’s backup goalie job.
Related: Red Wings’ 2019 Free Agency Preview
Pickard’s Winding Road
After playing the first three seasons of his career with the Avalanche—including a 50-game campaign in 2016-17—Pickard bounced around the NHL and AHL, starting for five teams over the past two campaigns. He was also selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft and subsequently traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the organization acquired Malcolm Subban. That’s a lot of travel.
During the 2017-18 season, the netminder spent most of his time in the AHL. There, he helped the Toronto Marlies win the Calder Cup, producing great numbers behind Garret Sparks.
Last season, he was claimed off waivers by the Flyers prior to the regular season and suited up for 11 games while regulars Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth were out with injuries. When the two returned to the lineup, Pickard fell victim to the numbers game and was lost on waivers once again to the Coyotes.
In the desert, Pickard accrued six NHL games and four additional AHL contests with the Tucson Roadrunners. Overall, he produced a 4-6-2 record with a 3.86 goals-against average and a .875 save percentage. Those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, though, as Pickard only saw action in 17 NHL games while he traveled from team to team across North America.
Role with the Red Wings
While Pickard should challenge Bernier for the spot behind Jimmy Howard, he’ll more than likely start the year with the Grand Rapids Griffins. There, he’ll start more than half of their games and mentor first-year pro Filip Larsson – Detroit’s top goaltending prospect.
Pickard’s a solid number-three option who can be called up for spot starts throughout the season. Perhaps more importantly, he’ll give the Griffins some stability between the pipes after an up-and-down year from Harri Sateri and Patrik Rybar. The former is off to the KHL and the latter isn’t expected to be retained by the Red Wings with Pickard now onboard.
In net, Pickard has very strong lateral movement, but doesn’t always track the puck well. He’s more a battler in the crease than a refined, pure butterfly goalie. Pickard can certainly catch fire and be an effective netminder – he just hasn’t been consistent enough at the NHL level.
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Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.