The Leafs took a massive hit in their goaltending depth chart this fall, when an attempt to sneak both their third and fourth NHL-quality goaltenders through waivers on the same day resulted in neither avoiding a claim.
Curtis McElhinney was picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes to fill in for an injured Scott Darling, and he’s likely to stick there for a while yet. His performance has been arguably the most stabilizing of the three netminders in Raleigh, and the Hurricanes desperately need something reliable to maintain their precarious grip on a playoff spot.
Calvin Pickard, though, was picked up by the Philadelphia Flyers, filling in for the absolute avalanche of injuries in the Flyers goaltending system.
After nearly two months and just four wins in 11 games, though, Pickard is back on the waiver wire — and if Toronto is able to take advantage, they’ll potentially bolster a desperately weak depth system in net.
Pickard split the net with Garret Sparks for the Marlies last year, putting up one of the most impressive one-two punches in the AHL en route to their Calder Cup championship.
This year, both Sparks and Pickard have left a hole that the Marlies have struggled to fill.
The most prolific starter for the club has been Jeff Glass, who is 33 and coming off a PTSD-inducing nightmare of a year in the Chicago Blackhawks system. He’s struggled to put up good numbers in his 10 games so far, posting a .849 save percentage and allowing an average of over four goals per game.
Kasimir Kaskisuo similarly struggled, going 1-3-0 and picking up an .871 save percentage of his own, before getting injured back in October and hitting long-term injured reserve. The best performance so far has surprisingly been from ECHL call-up Eamon McAdam, the 24-year-old who recorded three wins in seven games and sits just shy of a .900 save percentage.
McAdam likely isn’t the answer, though, and Glass hasn’t been able to hold down the fort either. So if Pickard gets re-claimed by Toronto, his immediate eligibility for AHL reassignment could be the best thing that’s happened to the team since Auston Matthews’ return for the NHL club.
The hope, of course, is that Philadelphia hasn’t done too much damage to his game to help the team out immediately. The Flyers have developed a scary reputation as the team where goaltenders go to die, which explains Pickard’s struggle to put up good numbers this year.
If he’s able to perform at even a fraction of the level he did last year, though, the Marlies will get a desperately-needed boost.