The Avalanche lost goalie Calvin Pickard to the Vegas Golden Knights in Wednesday’s expansion draft in Las Vegas. Pickard, 25, was left unprotected instead of injury-plagued and big-salaried goalie Semyon Varlamov, 29, who was traded from Washington to Colorado in 2011 by then-Capitals general manager George McPhee, now the GM of Vegas.
Pickard led the NHL last-place Avs in save percentage (.904) and goals-against average (2.98) last season, in which Varlamov finished on injured reserve after undergoing hip and groin surgeries. Pickard, who is considered an ideal teammate, also had significantly better statistics than Varlamov in 2015-16.
Varlamov’s $5.9 million cap hit over the next two seasons also was reason the Golden Knights were believed to have zero interest in the Russian.
In addition to Varlamov, the Avalanche protected seven forwards (Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto) and three defensemen (Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov). First- and second-year players and unsigned prospects were exempt from the expansion draft.