According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Calvin Pickard have been placed on waivers today. All five players who were placed on waivers yesterday have cleared.
Marincin made the Maple Leafs final roster over several challengers but didn’t play in their first game last night against the Winnipeg Jets. Perhaps the team was waiting to make sure that rookie Andreas Borgman could hold his own in a regular season game before moving on from Marincin, though the timing is interesting. Roman Polak also continues to practice with the club, and could be a potential signing to add some more physicality to the team. Head coach Mike Babcock has been clear with his praise of Polak over the years, and has also been critical of Marincin.
The more interesting name though is Pickard, who looked locked into the backup role in Vegas until a late waiver claim of Malcolm Subban. Since the Golden Knights already have roster troubles with all of their defensemen, carrying three goaltenders never seemed like a realistic option. Still, Pickard has shown that he’s a capable NHL goaltender and was the Golden Knights’ expansion selection from Colorado. While admittedly there weren’t many other options on the rebuilding Avalanche, if he is claimed it will go down as somewhat of a questionable decision.
Pickard was drafted in the second round by the Avalanche in 2010, and has since developed into an excellent professional goaltender. With a career save percentage of .914 in the NHL even behind a struggling Colorado team, he’s at minimum a backup in the league. Subban, while having a higher draft pedigree than Pickard, is far from a sure thing at the NHL level after struggling in his two career games. Still, the team may see him as a big upgrade in potential, especially with the team not expected to compete. Pickard is a restricted free agent next summer and is arbitration eligible, while Subban still has another year after this on his two-way deal.
For the Maple Leafs, burying Marincin in the minors would save them $1.025MM in cap space which the team could use to improve elsewhere during the season. Last year they showed no issue with burying veteran NHL players, as Brooks Laich, Milan Michalek and Colin Greening all spent nearly the entire year in the AHL. Since Pickard makes just $1MM, he’ll cause no cap penalty on the Golden Knights, who are closer than you may think. The team is currently $5MM under the cap, though that will change drastically when Vadim Shipachyov ($4.5MM) is recalled. That said, they don’t have a ton to worry about as Mikhail Grabovski and David Clarkson could both be placed on long-term injured reserve if the team needed room.