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In Fleury’s shadow, goaltender Pickard could be Golden Knights’ future

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/ AP FILE Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) during an NHL hockey video game against the San Jose Sharks Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in San Jose, Calif.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Calvin Pickard hasn’t got the very same promotion as counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury because being selected from the Colorado Avalanche in June’s expansion draft.

It’s easy to understand.

While Fleury was helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to their second-straight Stanley Cup, Pickard was training in the house in Winnipeg, fresh off the second-worst season in Avalanche history.

It was a horrible season as Colorado quit a league-high 276 goals. However it definitely wasn’t all (or even mostly) Pickard’s fault, and it could have been a blessing for the Golden Knights.

The 25-year-old enabled a career-high 2.98 objectives per game however did so behind one of the worst defenses in recent league history. When starting experienced goaltender Semyon Varlamov went down for the year with a hip injury, Pickard was propelled into the beginning function for the very first time in his profession.

“You can just get better by playing,” Pickard said. “There were definitely some ups and downs in Colorado, and I saw a variety of circumstances. I found out the best ways to prepare every day, particularly when you are playing 3 video games a week. You need to have a short-term memory as a goalie. You can’t dwell on anything that took place the other day. You have to move on and get ready for the next challenge.”

For Pickard the next challenge came June 21 when he was the very first player revealed for the Vegas Golden Knights growth group.

“At the time, it was quite stunning news. However after a couple days passed, my enjoyment was through the roofing system,” Pickard said. “It’s a brand-new team and both the arena and the practice rink are gorgeous. Based on social networks, I can see the fans are already excited about the team.”

Pickard has rapidly welcomed Las Vegas, even providing the fans an opportunity to develop his mask for the upcoming season. Las Vegas homeowners can send entries to vegasgoldenknights.com through Friday.

“I’m not too particular and I have actually always left the mask in the hands of the artist,” Pickard said. “I believed it would be cool to get the fans engaged. Undoubtedly, it’s going to be team-oriented and get the city involved too. I anticipate seeing exactly what we get.”

Despite his underwhelming stats from a year back, Pickard is still considered one of the very best young goaltenders in the league. He proved why this offseason when he claimed the beginning task and helped lead Team Canada to a silver medal on the planet Championships in Europe.

“I’m a realist and in some of those losses (in Colorado) I knew I played well, and vice versa,” Pickard stated. “To obtain that opportunity to have fun with Group Canada and be surrounded by that winning mentality and kind of skill was fantastic. The champion went right down to the wire with a shootout, so it was valuable experience for me.”

Pickard had an outstanding objectives versus average of just 1.49 in his 7 video games in the tournament, going 5-2. There, he unknowingly satisfied his future Vegas head coach in Gerard Gallant, who was serving as an assistant coach for Canada.

“He’s a remarkable person and everybody enjoyed him,” Pickard said. “He supervised of the power play over there and he did a hell of a task, however what I noticed most was he was actually simple to talk with.”

Team Canada scored 15 objectives on 38 power plays for a remarkable 39 percent during the competition.

However after beginning 48 video games in 2015 for the Avalanche (14 more than Fleury began for the Penguins), Pickard will be back to backup duty for the Golden Knights.

“I was left to discover I ‘d be playing with Fleury,” Pickard stated. “I’ve heard absolutely nothing however advantages about him as an individual and a player. Plus, in today’s NHL, you have to have 2 good goalies healthy to be a winning team.”

Pickard will play plenty this season. Fleury is 32 and will likely be taking lots of nights off. In the meantime, Pickard plans on learning everything he can from the three-time Stanley Cup champion.

“I’m going to be a sponge with him,” Pickard stated. “He’s had a terrific profession so far, and I believe he has a great deal of gas left in the tank. I wish to continue to improve and show everyone that I can play.”

The last young goalie that Fleury mentored was Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. The 23-year-old now has two Stanley Cup titles in two seasons in the NHL and is great enough for the Penguins to permit Fleury to come to Las Vegas.

If Pickard can reproduce anything close to that, the Golden Knights will be in terrific hands a couple years down the roadway when they prepare to push for the playoffs.

“(Fleury) has played in big video games and has three Stanley Cups,” Pickard stated. “It’s going to be good to select his brain on how he gets ready for huge video games. He’s had a great deal of big-game experience, and I haven’t been surrounded by a great deal of people like that goalie-tandemwise.”

Fleury is clearly the guy in web this year for the Golden Knights, however past that, the future is cloudy. His $5.7 million a year agreement expires after the 2018-19 season. Pickard has one year left on his contract and will be a restricted complimentary agent the following season– making him a best prospect to receive a long-term offer and end up being Vegas’ franchise goalie.

That is, if he proves he deserves it this year.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Pickard said. “There’s going to be a lot of buzz for this very first season and we will be competitive right off the bat. The team is likewise prepared for the future too, with all the draft choices. I would like to develop myself as we develop the group.”

Fleury brings Stanley Cup house for '' last day as a Penguin''.

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L.E. Baskow Marc-Andre Fleury of the Golden Knights looks for a few new hats during media availability for new players in the official team shop, The Armory, at the T-Mobile Arena on Thursday, June 22, 2017.

Monday, July 24, 2017|2:56 p.m.

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury remained in the middle of Colisee Cardin, the greatest rink in his hometown, and stood with the Stanley Cup as numerous regional small hockey gamers waited their turn for a photo with their local hero Saturday night.

To see the full story, click on this link.

Fleury headlines new Golden Knights lineup, thoroughly crafted by McPhee

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John Locher/ AP Vegas Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury, Deryk Engelland and Brayden McNabb, from left, sit on stage throughout an occasion following the NHL expansion draft, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. The gamers were chosen by the Golden Knights in the NHL growth draft.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017|9 p.m.

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NHL’s biggest super stars took the stage Wednesday night at the NHL Awards Show.

Current gamers Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid accepted awards while legends such as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux presented them.

But no one took the stage to a louder ovation than former Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

The three-time Stanley Cup champ brought T-Mobile Arena to its feet as he was announced as one of the last choices in the Golden Knights growth draft.

“I wasn’t anticipating that at all,” Fleury stated. “I’m excited to be with a brand-new team and a new company. By the way the crowd was this evening and the method the team is looking, I am delighted.”

Fleury is one of the most reputable players in the league and will certainly be the face of the franchise early on. However the same features that make him that person won’t permit him to admit it.

“I’m not looking to be the face of much– I simply wish to come in and play hockey,” Fleury stated. “I will offer whatever I have actually got to win some games in addition to entering the community to fulfill people and spread the word about the Vegas Golden Knights.”

Fleury silenced the questions of the permanency of his time as a Golden Knight, stating he and his spouse will be house shopping in Las Vegas over the next couple of days.

One expansion selection who will not have to go home shopping is former Calgary Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland. The 35-year-old has resided in Las Vegas for more than a years and had fun with the Las Vegas Wranglers at one point.

“I began here as a Wrangler,” Engelland stated. “To be here and put this jersey on is an honor.”

Fleury headlined a strong group of players picked by General Manager George McPhee, including Predators’ winger James Neal and Panthers center Jonathan Marchessault.

Neal has 238 profession objectives and Marchessault completed this season tied for 8th in the NHL with 30 goals.

The group also accumulated on the blue line, taking defenseman Brayden McNabb from the Kings, Marc Methot from the Senators and Nate Schmidt from the Capitals. And behind Fleury in objective will be two young goaltenders with potential in Calvin Pickard from the Avalanche and Jean-Francois Berube from the Islanders.

More important for the long-term success of the Golden Knights franchise, McPhee had the ability to acquire 11 future draft choices including multiple first-rounders.

“We had two objectives,” McPhee said. “One was to put an amusing group on the ice that the NHL and Las Vegas can be proud of. The second was to obtain potential customers and draft choices that can help us build our group in the future.”

The year of preparation by McPhee and his team appear to have actually settled, as they made out of the growth draft like outlaws. However, all those draft picks suggest nothing unless McPhee can turn them into terrific gamers.

That process starts almost right away. McPhee and his group fly to Chicago Wednesday night for the entry draft where they hold 12 picks, consisting of 3 first-rounders.

They presently choose 6th however there have actually been talks of them potentially moving into the leading two for a possibility at Nolan Patrick, who assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon worked with at the Canadian junior ice hockey group Brandon Wheat Kings.

Exactly what the future holds for the Golden Knights is anyone’s guess, however tonight was a win for McPhee.

Here are the expansion-draft selects:

Colorado Avalanche– Calvin Pickard, Goaltender

Vancouver Canucks– Luca Sbisa, Defense

Arizona Coyotes– Teemu Pulkkinen, Left Wing

New Jersey Devils– Jon Merrill, Defense

Buffalo Sabres– William Provider, Left Wing

Detroit Red Wings– Tomas Nosek, Left Wing

Dallas Stars– Cody Eakin, Center

Florida Panthers– Jonathan Marchessault, Center

Los Angeles Kings– Brayden McNabb, Defense

Carolina Hurricanes– Connor Brickley, Center

Winnipeg Jets– Chris Thorburn, Extreme right

Philadelphia Flyers– Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Extreme right

Tampa Bay Lightning– Jason Fort, Defenseman

New york city Islanders– Jean-François Bérubé, Goaltender

Nashville Predators– James Neal Right Wing

Calgary Flames– Derek Engelland, Defenseman

Toronto Maple Leafs– Brendan Leipsic, Left Wing

Boston Bruins– Colin Miller, Defenseman

Ottawa Senators– Marc Methot, Defenseman

San Jose Sharks– David Schlemko, Defenseman

St. Louis Blues– David Perron, Left Wing

New York Rangers– Oscar Lindberg, Center

Edmonton Oilers– Griffin Reinhart, Defenseman

Montreal Canadiens– Elexei Emelin, Defenseman

Anaheim Ducks– Clayton Stoner

Minnesota Wild– Erik Haula

Columbus Blue Jackets– William Karlsson

Chicago Blackhawks– Trevor van Reimsdyk

Pittsburgh Penguins– Marc-Andre Fleury

Washington Capitals– Nate Schmidt