Toronto Maple Leafs insider James Mirtle of The Athletic recently confirmed a hot rumor surrounding the team this offseason when he reported live on air during an appearance with TSN 1050 radio in Toronto that the Leafs are actively shopping goaltender Calvin Pickard on the trade market.
Check it out:
“Calvin Pickard has been offered around the league in trade talks, other teams have been saying that. So they are looking to kind of ease that log jam a little bit.”
The log jam, as Mirtle puts it, refers to the Leafs’ depth at the goaltending position. While Pickard has proven himself to be worthy of an NHL job, the Leafs currently have Frederik Andersen, Curtis McElhinney and Garret Sparks all holding down spots ahead of Pickard on the depth chart. Something’s got to give.
Andersen and McElhinney were both excellent in 2017-18, so don’t expect them to be moved anytime soon. That means that either Pickard or Sparks will be odd man out. “I know for a fact that Kyle Dubas is a big believer in Garret Sparks,” reports Mirtle. And for good reason, Sparks’ statistics from his championship season with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies are nothing short of eye-popping. The 25 year old netminder posted a remarkable 1.79 goals against average and .936 save percentage during the 2017-18 regular season. As for Pickard, he also acquitted himself well by posting a 2.31 goals against average and .918 save percentage.
The 26 year old Pickard was acquired by the Leafs from the expansion Vegas Golden Knights early last season and spent almost the entirety of the campaign in the AHL. But, let’s be clear… Pickard is an NHL quality netminder. The former second round pick has 87 games of NHL experience, almost all with the Colorado Avalanche over a three season stretch. Should the Leafs find a fit for him on the trade market, it’s expected that he’ll once again find himself between the pipes of an NHL team, rather than toiling in the AHL.
It's interesting to note Mirtle's wording in his reporting, saying that Pickard has already been offered up around the league in trade talks. Since no trade has been consummated yet, we can only speculate that either Dubas is seeking too much in return for Pickard or that other NHL GMs simply aren't interested in Pickard even as a back up option. Notable teams who appear to be thin on goaltending depth include the Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes.