It was about time the Winnipeg Jets moved on from Ondrej Pavelec.
Pavelec’s career save percentage (.907) and goals against average (2.85) is below the league average according to hockey-reference.com, yet his start- ing job has never been in jeopardy. It didn’t seem likely the Jets would ever waive him.
Pavelec’s demotion to the American Hockey League might not be worthy of celebrating at Portage and Main, but it’s a good thing the Jets will have a fresh face between the pipes this season.
The Jets need to find out what they have in this season’s goaltending tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson.
Both have shown promise backing up Pavelec recently.
Hutchinson was a big part of the Jets’ playoff push two seasons ago. Despite going 21-10-5 during the regu- lar season, he never got the call in the Jets’ first-round matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.
Hellebuyck was dominant in the AHL last season, and he made the most of his opportunity in the big leagues when he took over for an injured Pavelec. Hellebuyck was the only goalie on the Jets roster to hold a record above .500 and an above-average save percentage (.918), according to hockey-reference.com.
Not bad right? And now these goalies won’t have to wait in line for their chance to play.
Keep in mind there’s going to be a new NHL team in Las Vegas this time next year, and an expansion draft will take place after this season. The whatever colour Knights (they still haven’t picked the team nickname yet) will get to choose a player from each of the NHL’s 30 teams.
Each team gets to protect some of their players including one goaltender, and the Jets aren’t going to waste that on a below average, soon-to-be 30-year-old.
If the Jets went through another season with Pavelec as the starter and beloved scapegoat, would they have enough evidence to make an educated choice on protecting Hutchinson or Hellebuyck?
No, absolutely not. That’s why Pavelec needed to go. Not only do
Hellebuyck and Hutchinson match the Jets timeline better at 23 and 25 respectively, they give fans hope for the future.
Only one team gets to drink their beer out of the Stanley Cup each summer. With or without Pavelec, it’s likely not going to be the Jets this year. So Jets fans should be glad to see some of the young talent get an extended opportunity in net as they move on from the Ondrej Pavelec era.
Neil likes sports.
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