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Goaltender Calvin Pickard is seen during Marlies practice at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto on Tuesday, October 17, 2017.Dhiren Mahiban/The Canadian Press

With Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury sidelined due to a concussion, Malcolm Subban stepped in and backstopped the Golden Knights to a 3-1 win over Boston on Sunday. A day earlier, Calvin Pickard — Fleury's backup as of two weeks ago — made his regular-season debut with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League.

While Pickard said he's aware of the opportunity that could have been in Vegas, the former Colorado Avalanche netminder is focused on starting his climb back to the NHL with the Maple Leafs organization.

"Obviously I keep tabs on (Vegas) because I know a lot of the guys there," Pickard said. "But it's not my worry, I'm not there anymore."

The Leafs acquired Pickard from the Golden Knights on Oct. 6 in exchange for Tobias Lindberg and a 2018 sixth-round draft pick and assigned the goaltender, who had previously cleared waivers, to the Marlies.

It was part of a whirlwind off-season for Pickard. He got engaged to his girlfriend Courtney, helped Canada win a silver medal at the world championship and was then claimed from the Colorado Avalanche by Vegas with the first selection in the expansion draft.

After settling into his new place in the desert and teaming up with Golden Knights fans to design his mask for the upcoming season, he was abruptly placed on waivers after Vegas claimed Subban from the Bruins, and then traded to Toronto.

"Going into the expansion draft, I thought it was maybe a possibility and it's nice to feel wanted from Vegas, to get picked up," said Pickard. "It was a bit of a shock to be put on waivers and then traded.

"I didn't see that one coming, but now that it's happened, I'm really excited to be a part of the Leafs organization."

Originally a second-round pick of the Avalanche at the 2010 NHL draft, the native of Moncton, N.B., spent five seasons working his way up the goaltending depth chart in Colorado before finally earning starting minutes last season.

In 50 appearances with a struggling Avalanche team, Pickard put together a 15-31-2 record to go along with a 2.98 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.

"I got off to a good start when I was in the back-up role, and then obviously a lot more weight on my shoulders when I got the starting role," said Pickard. "We had a tough season, there was a lot things not going our way, but I learned a lot of things.

"Being able to have a short-term memory. There's good games, there's bad games, but being able to throw it away and get ready for the next one was good for me."

The 25-year-old joins a Toronto organization looking for stability in its back-up goaltending position behind Frederik Andersen. Curtis McElhinney currently holds the role with the Leafs, but after a shaky pre-season has yet to see a regular-season start this year.

Since Sheldon Keefe took over as head coach of the Marlies prior to the start of the 2015-16 season, the AHL team has dressed 12 goaltenders, including Pickard, in at least one regular season game.

The hope is Pickard can be what the organization has been searching for.

"I think he's (been an NHL backup) and he's done it successfully so the easy answer to say is 'yes'," said Keefe. "If you look at the start he had for us the other night (33 saves in a 3-2 win over Providence), he looked like a goalie that was on another level. That's really positive for us and for him.

"It's positive for the organization to increase their depth in goaltending and that's obviously why he was acquired."

Pickard, a restricted free agent after this season, believes strong play with the Marlies will help earn him a return to the NHL.

"My primary focus right now is being the best goaltender I can be here for the Marlies," he said. "Make sure when I get the next opportunity at the NHL level, that I'm ready for it. I know that I can play at that level and I know I can excel there as well.

"Hopefully I get a lot of playing time, sharpen up my game, it's good to get in the net and play some games. Everything else will take care of itself. If I play well, I'm sure I'll some opportunity."

Defenceman Morgan Rielly says the Maple Leafs need to put in a lot of work to get to where they want to be at the end of the season. As Toronto kicked off training camp on Thursday, forward Auston Matthews added that consistency is key.

The Canadian Press