Could the long, inexplicable goaltending nightmare finally be over for Winnipeg Jets fans?
According to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun, the Jets placed goalie Ondrej Pavelec on waivers, potentially ending a nine-year run with the franchise that spans back to its days as the Atlanta Thrashers.
Pavelec, 29, has been considered among the weakest starting goalies in the NHL for the last five seasons. Outside of his 2014-15 season, in which he posted a .920 save percentage and played well in getting the Jets to the playoffs, Pavelec was never better than a .906 save percentage during his time in Winnipeg.
There were calls to have his contract bought out, but Jets management awkwardly stood by him as the team floundered. He has one year left on his contract with a $3.9 million cap hit. That contract had to be the thing keeping him around, like some kind of Mike Smith-esque salary cap hostage crisis.
So the crease is turned over to Michael Hutchinson, a 26-year-old who has played 71 NHL games in three seasons, and more notably young Connor Hellebuyck, who had 26 starts as a 22-year-old last season and posted a .918 save percentage. Either of them is an improvement.
It was clear Pavelec was just keeping the seat warm for Hellebuyck, but many people expected this charade to go on for the last year of his contract. He’ll head to the AHL. There’s no word about his future, but it’s clear that Pavelec doesn’t have the consistency or the temperament to be a long-term solution in goal in the NHL.
That said, if he does end up returning to the Jets to save their season or heads elsewhere to reclaim his game, it would obviously be another Masterton worthy achievement.
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