In his short NHL career, Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard has fans, teammates and coaches alike eager to see what he brings as a permanent goaltender. As the third-string goalie in the Avs system, he has provided more than adequate relief when called upon and gives head coach Patrick Roy confidence in using him. His presence provides a viable option when either Semyon Varlamov or Reto Berra need time off, whether it is through injury or fatigue. Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils, Pickard earned his first career shutout, furthering the confidence the team has in his abilities to be a legitimate NHL goaltender. Make no mistake, Calvin Pickard is a viable NHL starter.

In four years in the American Hockey League, Pickard has put up some decent numbers, posting a .908 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average. Those numbers are adequate, but when Pickard has played in the NHL, his numbers improve dramatically. In his 22 games played with the Avalanche in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, Pickard has a .930 save percentage and a 2.38 goals against average. There could be many variables that affect Pickard’s numbers in the NHL, such as, stronger defensive support or the motivation to stay in the top league, but regardless of those factors, his numbers are among the best in the league during those 22 games. For example, the save percentage Pickard has achieved in his two seasons of play with the Avalanche would place him in fifth among all NHL goalies if they were all done this season. Pickard’s numbers are not included in the NHL’s statistics, however, because he has not met the minimum number of games played to be included (27 is the current minimum).

Part of what makes Pickard an effective and promising goalie is the calm presence he has in net. He limits the amount of movement necessary to be in the proper position and keeps his play simple. He prides himself on his ability to read plays and, therefore, does not need to move spastically through the crease.

“If you look at my first few games in the NHL, I was a bit more jittery,” Pickard said about his calm demeanor. “I want to be that calming factor behind these guys, if they are playing well and they look back at me making saves. Having a calm goalie definitely helps the team out.”

Another notable part of Pickard’s game is his positioning in the crease. Most goaltenders tend to be aggressive and further out of the net than Pickard prefers. This is most intriguing due to the fact that, of the three Avalanche goaltenders to have played this year, Pickard is the smallest. By simply standing in the net, Reto Berra covers the most, standing at 6-foot-4, Varlamov is next at 6-foot-2 and then Pickard at 6-foot even. Much like Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers, Pickard sits back, about half way between the top of the crease and the net, and makes his saves based more on reaction than positioning and size:

“I used to be very aggressive, I have dialed it down back in my crease a little bit more,” he said Thursday.

“It gives me more time to see the shot, plus you are in better position for rebounds and going back and forth with the passes, you can get over quicker. It seems like in this day and age you have to stay efficient and eliminate your movements and stay in the crease most of the time.”

Calvin Pickard has shown that he has what it takes to be a consistent NHL goaltender. Through impressive stats and a personalized style that works for him, he has given the Avalanche confidence that he is a legitimate option for the future number-one spot. By taking advantage of every opportunity he has, Pickard is making the future goaltending situation difficult and controversial for Colorado. A well-liked guy around the locker room as well, Pickard has shown that he is one of the best young assets in the Colorado Avlanche system. Unfortunately, due to current contract situations, Pickard’s AHL days are yet to be behind him.

The Colorado Avalanche go on a two-game road trip this weekend beginning Saturday night in Columbus. The Blue Jackets came in to Colorado in in late October and stole a 4-3 victory, which was their first of the season after starting the year 0-8. Columbus recently acquired local product Seth Jones, who was the number one ranked player in the 2013 draft when Colorado had the number one choice in the same draft. Colorado, of course, went with Nathan MacKinnon instead. Puck drop from Columbus is at 5 p.m. MST.