Per a report from yesterday, the Toronto Maple Leafs are actively shopping their newly-re-signed goaltender, Calvin Pickard.
Ok, I think we first need to establish what actually constitutes a “report”.
Pickard’s name on the trade block is far from breaking news. His potential inclusion in a deal has been public knowledge for a while now, dating back all the way to a June report from The Athletic’s James Mirtle.
Alas, money must be made, even in the dog days of summer.
With Pickard as a likely trade candidate, it begs the questions of; what’s his current value? And who needs him?
Here’s my stab at answering both.
One way to gauge Pickard’s value is to determine how fondly he’s viewed by his current employer.
Only, that’s a difficult undertaking right now.
The Leafs are right in the midst of a regime change at the moment, casting their actual modus operandi in an uncertain light. Kyle Dubas clearly has his own specific wishlist he seeks to live out and its unclear as to whether trading Pickard occupies it.
Still, let’s take a gander back to 2017-18.
Despite Garret Sparks‘ status as the Marlies #1, Pickard stood firmly ahead of him on the organization’s depth chart. Not only was Pickard the first of the two to receive an NHL call-up, he was the only Marlies’ netminder to see real game action as well.
At a time when the Leafs sought big-league reinforcements, they turned to Pickard first. That says a lot about how their management group viewed him.
Although, there’s the caveat.
Lou Lamoriello oversaw said management group last season, and he’s, as I’m sure you know, no longer with the team. How does Dubas’ opinion of Pickard differ from that of his predecessor? Does it even at all?
Those are all important questions to which we do not know the answers.
One could surely paint Dubas as a Pickard fan, of course, simply based on how he re-signed the former-Golden Knight (remember that?) to a one-year, one-way extension in May.
Then again, this is Dubas we’re talking about. He could very well have retained Pickard with the explicit intention of flipping him for value prior to training camp.
Both are certainly possible.
As it pertains to the league as a whole, Pickard’s value is influenced by the number of teams who remain in need of goaltenders, and how badly they need help as well.
Purely by my own estimation, 6 teams possess an immediate need for reinforcements in net, in no particular order being; the Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Which brings us to…
Who Needs Him?
Ok, so I may have answered my own question above, although it’s not only important to break down which teams could use Pickard, but how badly they could use him as well.
Few teams, at the moment, would acquire Pickard with the intention of using him as a starter. Pretty much the entirety of the league has a pair of entrenched options in net, they just might not necessarily be happy with them.
Therefore, it’s likely the Islanders, Coyotes, and Capitals who could use Pickard the most, each team lacking a suitable option to dispell the responsibilities of their starter.
And without a doubt, the Islanders’ goaltending situation is the direst of all.
After finishing 28th in team save percentage last season, the Islanders managed to bring noted lunatic Robin Lehner in as an “upgrade” over the summer. There’s a lot to unpack here.
Attitude issues aside, Lehner will arrive at training camp with a most recent save percentage of .908, the exact equivalent to what New York’s previous starter, Jaroslav Halak, produced in an identical sample size.
Statistically, Lehner does nothing to upgrade his new team’s goaltending, bringing with him the possibility of a mid-game meltdown instead.
For Pickard, he actually has prior experience playing alongside erratic netminders. The evidence can be found as recently as last season, with his presence being a large factor in the progression of Sparks.
From both an attitude and production standpoint, he’d be a breath of fresh air for New York’s current situation, which includes backup, Tomas Greiss.
In Washington’s case, all the defending champs really need is a proven #2 to occupy the recently departed Philip Grubauer‘s minutes. Phoenix Copley stands to do that as of now, and he’ll enter the year holding no prior NHL experience.
Behind Anti Raanta, the Coyotes will find themselves relying upon Darcy Kuemper to provide them with 20-25 quality starts next year. Look, if they’re comfortable with that, then by all means, go for it.
But If I were John Chayka? Let’s just say I’d be asking around.
What Could the Leafs Get For Him?
Following a year that saw him forced into the starters role behind what was arguably the worst regular season roster in the entire salary cap era, the Leafs managed to land Pickard for the small price of a prospect they’d never use, Tobias Lindberg, and a 6th round pick roughly 12 months ago.
With Pickard now holding the title of Calder Cup Champion and fresh off a statistically successful campaign, I’d reckon his price tag has since increased.
Not to mention, Pickard brings some enticing value as well. His new extension carries few cap implications, paying him an AAV of only $800,000, and his one-year term lessens the risk were he fail to pan out.
Whoever acquires Pickard gains an NHL-calibre backup on a team-friendly deal with practically no financial commitment.
If you need a goalie, how could you possibly justify not at least calling the Leafs?
As a complete stab in the dark, I’d put my money on Pickard heading to the Island.
Lou clearly favoured him last season, at least in the context of the Leafs’ internal options, and he’s already begun to get the gang back together via trading for Matt Martin and signing Leo Komarov.
If Dubas can pump Pickard for the same value he did Martin, Leafs fans are in for a treat.
Thanks for reading!
Stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com
Salary information courtesy of capfriendly.com