On a busy day for goaltenders on the National Hockey League (NHL) waiver wire, the Carolina Hurricanes placed veteran Scott Darling on waivers and the Arizona Coyotes claimed Calvin Pickard from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Carolina traded for Darling
Ron Francis, former Carolina general manager, traded a third-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Darling in 2017 and signed him to a $16.6 million, four-year contract. Darling, 29, has gone 15-25-8 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .889 save percentage in 50 games.
The Hurricanes put Darling on waivers with two years left on his contract beyond this season at a salary-cap hit of $4.15 million. Unfortunately, he became Carolina’s third goaltender behind former Flyers' goalie Petr Mrazek and Curtis McIlhenney, who they claimed from the Toronto Maple Leafs before the 2018/19 campaign.
Pickard joined Flyers goalie carousel
Despite being outplayed and dominated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in six playoff games last season, former Flyers EVP and GM Ron Hextall prioritized finding a goal-scorer in James van Riemsdyk and a right-shot defenseman in Christian Folin in the offseason rather than searching for a prominent goaltender.
As a result, Philadelphia entered the season with an injured goalie tandem of returning Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth.
At that time, Hextall confirmed that with Elliott coming off core-muscle and hip surgery and injuries to Neuvirth and Lyon, plus the fact that Lehigh Valley Phantoms' net-minder Anthony Stolarz "hasn't played essentially in a year," after undergoing two knee surgeries made that move necessary.
"It was one of those moves we felt made sense, to give us depth at a position that we're a little banged-up in," said Hextall.
Pickard joined Flyers goalie carousel
The selection of Pickard, a second-round pick by the Colorado Avalanche, from the waiver wire on Monday, October 1, 2018, from the Leafs clearly indicated that the Flyers weren’t comfortable with their goaltending situation going in the start of the regular season. Additionally, Pickard’s acquisition meant that their opening day roster would feature three goalies in Elliot, Neuvirth and Pickard.
With the addition of Pickard, the Flyers entered this season with six NHL goalies under contract. This goalie carousel included returning goalies Elliott and Neuvirth, Phantoms net-minders Alex Lyon and Stolarz and Carter Hart, the highly touted prospective goalie of the future.
Pickard sent packing
On Monday, November 26, 2018, after the Flyers fired Hextall, the team’s Executive Vice President and General Manager, Philadelphia placed Pickard on waivers following his abysmal goaltending performance against his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in a lopsided 6-0 beatdown.
Career with Philadelphia Flyers
As a member of the Flyers, the 26-year-old Pickard appeared in just 11 games and posted terrible ratios – compiling a 4.01 GAA and .863 save percentage, but he did maintain a winning record of 4-2-2 with one shutout 4-0 over the New York Rangers in which he earned Player of the Game status.
Pickard helped Marlies win Calder Cup
In 2017/18, Pickard appeared in one NHL game for the Leafs, allowing four goals in an overtime loss. However, he had a 21-9-1 record with the Toronto Marlies and helped them in defeating the Phantoms for the Calder Cup in the American Hockey League last season, posting a 2.31 GAA and .918 save percentage.
Career with Colorado Avalanche
Previously, Pickard played for the Avalanche from 2014-2017. In his three seasons with Colorado, he recorded a 28-44-6 record with a 2.77 GAA and .914 save percentage.
Next stop... Arizona
Pickard, who has one year left on a contract that pays him $800,000, provides Arizona with immediate goalie depth, but as with the Flyers, this pickup doesn’t provide the team with a long-term solution. It’s simply a move to ensure goalie depth.
Arizona picked up Pickard, the fourth different franchise since the Avalanche drafted him, in the aftermath of starter Antti Raanta leaving Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury. Raanta has already missed eight games this month with injuries.
To make matters worse the Coyotes' backup netminder, Darcy Kuemper also fell to a lower-body injury making him day-day.
No starter, no backup... time to go to the waiver wire.
"Pick is another quality, quality guy," said Leaf's coach Mike Babcock. "Unbelievable for Garret Sparks last year helping him become a pro [in the AHL]. He's had good numbers in the National Hockey League. He'll do a good job, but he's a great teammate."
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