(Avs' 2nd pick, 49th overall)
Born: April 15, 1992 (Age: 18)
09-10 Team: Seattle (WHL)
On draft day last Friday, NHL Central Scouting Services had Calvin Pickard ranked #1 among North American goaltenders. Highly regarded fellow draftee Jack Campbell was a close second, but went to Dallas 11th overall, 36 places ahead of Pickard. But as we've all come to see over the weekend, Central Scouting rankings are anything but gospel.
Back in March, I previewed both goalies, stating that either one would be a good choice as both are projected to be starting NHL net minders down the road. So today we'll delve a little deeper into what exactly the Avalanche got with their second choice in the 2010 entry draft.
Calvin Pickard, who graduates high school this week, comes from a hockey family. His older brother is' prospect, Chet Pickard, who was a first round pick, drafted 18th overall, and 2007 WHL goaltender of the year. The Pickard brothers grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Brr.
"Watching my brother coming up helped me become a composed goalie. I found out early that I just loved pressure. I didn't overhandle it, didn't get nervous and was able to stay calm all the time. That's really helped me." - Pickard
Calvin endured the undesirable position of playing for a bad team last season with the Seattle Thunderbirds. They finished 4th worst in the WHL with a 19-41-7 record. Despite that dismal output, Pickard was still ranked #1 on draft day among all goaltenders. That is a giant tribute to not only his game, but also his character:
"We've had our struggles, but this is a big opportunity for me to play a lot of minutes, face a lot of different situations and come out of it better. When you're a goaltender, you can't get too high or too low. You have to handle every situation exactly the same." - Pickard
Stuck playing behind a bad defense, Pickard (who led the WHL in minutes played) still managed a career highlight in dispatching the first place Tri-City Americans 1-0 in a 57 save shut out. He was an impressive 3-0-1 when facing 50+ shots last season. He also improved his save percentage this past season, once again, despite his awful team.
While Pickard hasn't enjoyed the lauded success that Campbell has, he has not always been a loser. As a Bantam he won the Manitoba championship, as well as the top goaltender award at the Western Canadian Championships. Before all that, in AAA, he posted a brilliant 1.91 GAA.
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of Pickard's attitude and play is that he approaches each game as a chance to get better - even if his team has little chance of winning. He is focused, skilled, and competes every game, every play. Sound familiar? Almost every draft pick from the last two drafts could fit that summary. So even though the Avs let Lappy go, they kept his spirit alive and well (well, expect for the "skilled" part of the equation..., love ya Lappy!).
Pickard has also been blessed to play a ton of games, more games than most goalies his age in the WHL, which will only further his development. From what I've gathered, it sounds like he'll be in the WHL next year, which is fine because he is barely 18 and the Avs can afford him some time to grow and perfect his game for awhile before Craig Anderson is an old man.
Scouting Report: His positioning is solid and he has great rebound control. He is confident and relaxed, giving up few soft goals and coming back nicely after being scored on - all signs of mental toughness. Pickard is highly adept at digging pucks out of scrums in front of the net. He also reads the play accurately and anticipates shots well. He moves well and never gives up on a play. He plays bigger than his already decent 6'1", 208 lbs stature. He has also proved that he can thrive with a huge workload and pressure, and still be the best player on the ice.
Badass Fact: At the last NHL combine in Toronto, Calvin placed third overall in push-ups behind two other Avalanche 2010 draftees: Colorado's 3rd pick (71st overall) defenseman Stephan Silas, and the Avs' 4th pick (95th overall) Michael Bournival. So suffice it to say, the Avs were looking for some strong kids and they found them.
Miscellaneous Favorites (provided by NHL.com):
NHL Team: New Jersey Devils
NHL Player: Roberto Luongo
Goal celebration: "I would go crazy if I scored a goal"
Video Game: Call of Duty
Movie: Dumb and Dumber
TV Show: Family Guy
Actress: Megan Fox
Music Group: Doc Walker
Book: "Talent is Overrated" by Geoffrey Calvin
Pump-up song: "Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson
Home-cooked meal: Steak and potatoes
Activity away from the rink: Hanging out with friends