The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that defenseman Connor Carrick has been signed to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million.
Carrick appeared in 47 games for the Maple Leafs and tallied four goals and eight assists in the regular season while playing 15:08 per night, and did not dress in the playoffs.
Previously a pending RFA, Carrick helps shore up the right-side depth on the blue line, but he has struggled to gain the favour of head coach, Mike Babcock, who surely noticed Carrick’s inability to make clean plays under pressure. Carrick’s advanced stats (52.5 CF%) suggest he can move the puck up ice in the right direction in sheltered situations and when paired with a player that can help him move it, but his inability to play on the penalty kill or power play make him a 5v5-only D at this time. It’s a difficult task to crack a bottom pairing spot full time under Babcock while not contributing on special teams, combined with not being trusted to make critical defensive stops.
The right-side of the defense needs to be upgraded for the Leafs this offseason and this signing doesn’t address that, but keeping a competent 6-7 D does help with depth. It will also be interesting to see if Roman Polak will be given another contract in favour of an internal option like Justin Holl, who seemingly has a fan in GM Kyle Dubas but will be fighting for that spot on the right side of bottom pair, along with Carrick.
The Leafs also announced on Wednesday the signing of goaltender Calvin Pickard to a one-year, one-way contract extension for $800,000. Pickard, acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights last Fall to shore up the Leafs goaltending depth, formed a successful goaltending platoon with Garret Sparks in the AHL, settling in as the team’s 1B and relishing the role while building a tight bond with Sparks. The pair won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award award for the best regular season goaltending performance in the AHL.
Pickard won a lot of fans in the organization for the way he enthusiastically embraced the role in the AHL despite being not far removed from regular NHL duty in Colorado. He will enter camp essentially auditioning for all 31 NHL teams as he is waiver eligible (as is Sparks). With all of Kasimir Kaskisuo, Sparks, Pickard and Curtis McElhinney now under contract behind Frederik Andersen and only Kaskisuo waiver exempt, it will be fascinating to see how the depth chart shakes out come October.