In a surprising move, the Leafs have called up Calvin Pickard mid-roadtrip to play in a place he’s very familiar with.
Maple Leafs recall G Calvin Pickard from the Marlies as Curtis McElhinney suffered a lower body injury. #TMLtalk— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 29, 2017
Luckily, with this injury to McElhinney, Pickard was ready, willing and able to fly to Denver to face one of his former teams.
Don’t think the Pickard recall is some kind of “fake” injury conspiracy. Saw McElhinney yesterday laden with ice packs. #Leafs haven’t recalled anyone to replace Kapanen so they had extra roster spot available in case. Must have thought they’d need it.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 29, 2017
The Leafs sent Kasperi Kapanen back to the AHL before Christmas and have a roster at 22 men, so they could have called up Pickard without this sudden and wholly unexpected urgent need, just to give him a game to play in, and a chance to clean out his storage units in Denver and Vegas and fly his stuff to Toronto on the Leafs’ dime.
The Marlies are at home tonight and Sunday afternoon, and will need a backup for Garret Sparks.
The Marlies have also added defender Jeff King from Orlando and Matias Cleland is listed as leaving the Solar Bears, but hasn’t arrived anywhere yet (edited to add: Cleland is being loaned to another ECHL team). The Solar Bears also have a game tonight, so they’ll be looking for an EBUG for Mackenzie Skapski, but in brighter news for them Martins Dzierkals is returning to Olando.
Pickard is expected to get the start in the building where he’s played most of his NHL career, and it seems likely he will stay on the roadtrip through the Las Vegas game.
Pickard has a mixed NHL record, putting up great results at first, and then suffering along with the Colorado Avalanche last year as they put up historically bad results. The Avalanche allowed him to go to Vegas in the expansion draft, and Vegas traded him to the Leafs earlier this year for Tobias Lindberg and a draft pick.
Since the trade, Pickard has become one of the elite goalies in the AHL vying with Sparks and Micheal Hutchinson for the league lead. A couple of recent games have sent his all-situations save percentage down to tenth in the AHL, but his performance has continued to be outstanding.
Sparks recently left a game and missed his next start with a minor injury, making the choice of who to callup obvious, even without Pickard’s extensive NHL experience.
As many people have noted, Pickard can stay on the NHL roster for nine games and not need waivers to return to the AHL.