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.”