A goalie can be a teams greatest weapon, at times an unnoticed factor to a winning team. You never see goalies scoring the flashy goals or racking up stellar points. But to have a successful team, you must have a solid goaltender. Do the Jets have that in Ondrej Pavelec? Is backup Al Montoya a better option?
In the NHL today, teams always look for a backup goalie that can step in to a hockey game and win games for the team. A perfect example of this is the New York Rangers goaltending duo. 2012 Vezna trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist is arguably the Rangers most valuable piece on the team. During his struggles this year, the team has relied on backup goaltender Cam Talbot. Talbot has been a very solid back up plan for the blue shirts, he has played 27% of the games so far and has posted a very impressive 10-5 record with a nice Goals against average of 1.79. This proves that even the best goalies in the NHL need backups, and when you have someone like Cam Talbot, who can win games its a nice reassurance to a club that a star goalie can take a night off. In Toronto, the goalie situation there is quite admirable. The teams starting goalie was James Reimer last year, he lead them to Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, (the team fell short to the Boston Bruins in overtime.) Leafs General Manager Dave Nonis was not satisfied with his goaltending and acquired Los Angelas Kings backup Jonathan Bernier. These goalie situation has two goalies that could be number one goalies, but neither of the two are better than the other so it creates competition as to who gets to start in net. This creates two options for the club. There is no number one and number two goalie, there is a 1a and a 1b. Bernier has started to gain more starts but Reimer still has started 35% of the games.
Which one of those two situations would help the Jets. The answer is simple, the Jets want the system the Leafs have. Montoya and Pavelec are both subpar goaltenders, but as of late, it seems the Jets have played much better when Montoya is in net rather than Ondrej Pavelec. The Leafs have two goalies that are payed very reasonably. Bernier makes 2.9 mil and Reimer makes 1.8 mil. Very reasonable numbers for the goaltending duo. On the other hand, the Jets pay Pavelec 3.5 mil and they pay Al Montoya 600k. A big margin between the two and unfortunately with the salary Pavelec has, it would be hard to trade him, and to top it off, rarely are there trades in the NHL involving goalies. So how do the Jets update there goalie situation?
Buyout Pavelec. The only way that Pavelec will leave Winnipeg is if a buyout occurs. I dont see the Jets getting a return for him that would be worth giving him up for. Will True North be willing to give up that kind of money for a buyout? Likely not but as his contract continues his salary becomes higher. The likely outcome from the goalie situation would be for the Jets to acquire a young goalie to replace Montoya and the young goalie and Pavelec would battle it out for the starting job. Pavelec isn’t a top 10 goalie in the NHL anyways, so it wouldn’t hurt for the Jets to give him a little more rest.
The Newmarket Ontario native has never played more than 55 games in a season but he has proven he is a very steady 1B caliber goalie and he can be an NHL starter. In the 2011-2012 season, while he was serving as the backup for Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, Elliot posted a very impressive 23-10-4 record followed up by a 1.56 Goals Against Average. Elliot is not in a position to demand starting goalie material money but he could be a nice investment that could be the X factor to the Jets goalie success. With Elliot and Pavelec, you could have two good goalies, and weather one takes over the duties of the starting goalie or not, there is two viable options at goalie.
Khudobin started the year as the backup to goalie Cam Ward. Since the beginning of the year, Ward has suffered numerous injuries and Khudobin has proven he is a very reliable plan B for the Carolina Hurricanes. Khudobin was a backup for the Boston Bruins stud goalie Tukka Rask. In Boston Khudobin posted a 9-4-1 record as a backup. Thus far in to the year he has a 12-5 record. Khudobin has shown starter potential, he may be 27 years old, but for a quick fix for the Jets.
The Cornell University grad was recently traded from the Los Angelas Kings, to the Edmonton Oilers. When he was with the Kings, he served as a vital part to the team once star goalie Jonathan quick had become unable to play with an injury. But once Quick had returned, Scrivens was shipped to Edmonton. Scrivens is sharing the goaltending duties with Ilya Bryzgalov. Scrivens currently holds the league lead in Save Percentage with a .937 save percentage. He is a UFA this summer and the Jets could possibly acquire him cheap. The Jets could give Scrivens the majority of the starts or do a 50/50 split with Scrivens and Pavelec but either way its a very nice quick fix for the Jets. Scrivens could be the Jets goalie for a few years and the Jets can wait for goalie Prospects to develop.
The Jets have a lot of valuable prospects in their system. Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba have already made there impact this year, but there are other valuable prospects and two of them are goalies. Eric Comrie and Connor Hellebuyck. Comrie was recently named WHL goalie of the month, he has had a very successful season despite his teams struggles. The Jets drafted Comrie in the last years draft in the second round, Comrie is looking like one of the biggest steals by Cheveldayoff, but the problem is with goalie prospects they dont just make an impact instantly. It takes a long time for the players to develop and eventually transform there game from junior to pros. Hellebuyck is one step closer to turning pro, he is playing college hockey for Umass-Lowell. He has a 10-5-1 record with the team and has recorded an excellent 1.76 Goals Against Average.An honourable mention is Jets prospect Michael Hutchinson. The 23 year old has been rock solid in the ECHL with a 22-4-2 record and he has been good in the AHL with a 6-2 record. Some people say he has starter potential, thats very unclear now but its nice to see a goalie prospect find his game in the pro game. These prospects could be goalies for the Jets, but they wont be starters for at least a few years. Goalies take time to develop and they need to work there way up to the pro game.
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