You have to wonder what Curtis McElhinney got up to on his days off that his lower body is so sore that he can’t play. All I can say is I hope it was as fun as I’m making it out to be in my mind. Anyways, the Leafs have officially shut him down temporarily and we now get our first look at Calvin Pickard in fancy backup goaltender ball cap.
Maple Leafs recall G Calvin Pickard from the Marlies as Curtis McElhinney suffered a lower body injury. #TMLtalk
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 29, 2017
This leaves us with a few things to note…
First, tonight is the second half of a back to back. It’s also against Calvin Pickard’s old team, the Colorado Avalanche. I’m sure he’d like the opportunity to face his old teammates who spent the better part of last season embarrassing and leading him on the path to waivers, and an AHL redemption tour, but he’s also not had a single practice with the Leafs and going in cold might be less than ideal.
Second, the Leafs face the team that waived and traded Pickard to the Leafs this season on Sunday afternoon. I’m sure he’d also like to get into that game to show they made a mistake, especially after Pickard spent a good chunk of his summer helping market the Vegas team. Given the Christmas break, maybe it’s reasonable to let Andersen go two nights in a row, and we’ll see Pickard on Sunday after he’s had a chance to practice with the Leafs. Either way, I’m sure he wants one of those two games.
There’s also the question of “Why not Sparks?”
My personal argument for why is that I firmly believe that Pickard is the better and more talented goaltender despite Sparks’ success against AHL shooters, but that’s my opinion and means very little to you. There’s also that Sparks got into his first game since December 16th on Wednesday night after Pickard carrying the load for the past few weeks. Pickard sitting on the bench for the Leafs is probably more preferable for him than sitting on the bench for the Marlies if they plan on letting Sparks run with the net for a while. The Marlies don’t go back to back until January 6th, and after that they don’t play again until the 12th, essentially Sparks can have the net until then.
Finally, there’s McElhinney’s timeline. We don’t know it. We just know that the Leafs seem to have 4 NHL capable goaltenders and there are likely teams looking to add a backup and it couldn’t be more perfect that the Leafs can see what they have in Pickard at the moment. There’s also the fact that Pickard is probably here on an emergency recall basis and won’t have to be put on waivers at the end of his stay. That is good.
UPDATE: In the event the Leafs did not recall Pickard on an emergency basis (for reasons I don’t pretend to understand) we have confirmation that Pickard has a fresh 10 game or 30 day waiver free exemption that would keep him with the Leafs without worry.
Of note: Pickard has a fresh waiver count, so he can spend up to 30 days on the NHL roster without having to clear again to go back to the AHL. https://t.co/AjJH4Asm9M
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 29, 2017