Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard makes a save during practice in February 2016 at Coors Field in Denver. As an unprotected player, Pickard was the first pick of the Vegas Golden Knights Wednesday in the NHL expansion draft. (John Leyba / The Denver Post)
DENVER — 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 Vegas GM.
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.
In a text message, Pickard said he was surrounded by family during the expansion draft and requested to delay an interview with The Post until Thursday morning.
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.
Earlier Wednesday it was announced by the NHL that the Avalanche will play their home opener on Oct. 11 against the Boston Bruins.
The full schedule will be announced at 1 p.m. today. Single-game tickets will also go on sale today.
The Avs will open the season on the road against the New York Rangers on Oct. 5. It is just the third time in the last 12 seasons in which Colorado begins its season on the road.
The Avs will also play the Devils on Oct. 7.
Edmonton's McDavid wins first Hart Trophy
LAS VEGAS — Edmonton captain Connor McDavid has won his first Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.
McDavid claimed the award Wednesday night at the NHL's annual postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, the new home of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The league also revealed the results of the Golden Knights' expansion draft to an arena filled with fans of the league's 31st franchise.
McDavid's victory capped a breakthrough sophomore season for the 20-year-old center, who won the league scoring title and led the Oilers back to the Stanley Cup playoffs after an 11-year absence. The former No. 1 pick beat out fellow finalists Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.
"I'm so proud to be in Edmonton," McDavid said. "I'm so proud to be an Oiler, and so proud to play with the guys."
Boston center Patrice Bergeron won the Selke Trophy for the fourth time as the NHL's best defensive forward, and San Jose's Brent Burns won his first Norris Trophy as the top defenseman. Toronto center Auston Matthews easily took the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, and Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky won his second Vezina Trophy.
Source : http://www.dailycamera.com/entertainment/ci_31084388/expansion-avs-lose-g-calvin-pickard