The Jets head in to the off-season with numerous holes to fill. One of them is goaltending. To have a successful team in the NHL, a team must have good goaltending. This year, the Jets starting goalie Ondrej Pavelec had a season to forget. Despite that, at Kevin Cheveldayoff’s season end presser he said Pavelec was the team’s number one goaltender heading in to the next season. So by all indications made from the team, Ondrej Pavelec isn’t going anywhere.
In today’s NHL, goaltending is key. If you look at years past, goaltending has been a success for Stanley Cup winners. Without an established goalie(s) a team will not have success. It appears to me, Ondrej Pavelec won’t take the Jets very far in the playoffs in the near future. However, I think that some of Pavelec’s scrutiny wasn’t well deserved. The Jets D core struggled to be effective in the defensive zone. How can a goaltender be effective if the D core struggles? Yes, it’s a fair point and I do have my fair share of blame towards Pavelec but it is true that the D core did not help when he needed it. To understand goalie stats you have to blame both parties. The defense and the goaltender. Usually the goaltender is not always to blame. In Pavelec’s case, he proved otherwise.
Ondrej Pavelec by the numbers
SV% .901 (45th in the NHL)
GAA 3.01 (45th in the NHL)
Losses 26 (2nd in the NHL)
Goals Against 163 (1st in the NHL)
Wins 22 (21st)
Numbers never lie, and it doesn’t appear they do here either. When you let in the most goals in the league and have the second most losses in the league, you aren’t doing your job right. The most important position in hockey is the goaltender. You must build from the goaltender up and have a solid foundation in goal. So the easy solution is to get rid of Pavelec, right? Yes, it is. Will Pavelec be gone next season? Unlikely. Kevin Cheveldayoff said at the team’s year-end press conference, Pavelec was the team’s number one goalie heading in to the season. It seems like such a ridiculous comment and too much job security for the struggling goalie. You would think he would say something along the lines of “Everyone will be evaluated.” Lets be honest, has Pavelec ever really been a solid goalie? No. But it has never become such an issue where people took notice. Once fans and media members shifted focus from the joyous return of the Jets towards securing a Stanley cup, people took a long hard look at Ondrej Pavelec. His poor playing became even more evident this year when the Jets backup goaltender stepped up when called upon.
Though the Jets defence isn’t great, the numbers tell a different story when Al Montoya is between the pipes.
Al Montoya By The Numbers
SV% .920 (15th in the NHL)
GAA 2.30 (12th in the NHL)
Not too shabby for the 29 year old career backup. I’ll give Ondrej Pavelec credit; Montoya played 28 games whereas Pavelec played 57 games. You could say it’s too much of a small sample size for Montoya. You also could say that in 28 games, Pavelec wasn’t better than Montoya.
Who will be between the pipes for the Jets in early October? Will it be Ondrej Pavelec? Maybe Al Montoya? Or neither? The solution is to get rid of Montoya. I believe Montoya could potentially get an offer in the range of 2 million dollars. A team will overpay him and the Jets shouldn’t be offering money to the 29-year-old journeyman. The Jets should attempt to trade Pavelec. Though they would have to eat some salary, it could be worth it in the end. If True North is in a “win now” attitude, they will get rid of Ondrej Pavelec. I’m not convinced this organization as a whole is there yet. The most realistic and possibly most effective scenario for the Jets would be to let Montoya go, keep Pavelec and trade or sign a goalie to split time with Pavelec.
Brian Elliot (UFA)
Chad Johnson (UFA)
James Reimer (TOR)
Cam Talbot (NYR)
The Jets should target these four goalies in order to create a goaltending battle and possibly a controversy. These goalies are strong backups and I believe these players could eventually become starters. With the exception of Elliot, the other three goaltenders are quite young. I think these four goalies are capable to come in and battle with Pavelec for the starting job. The two could split time or one could eventually take the ball and run with it. This would help the Jets because both goaltenders would become better after some competition for the starting job. In Toronto at the beginning of the season, Reimer and Bernier split the goaltending duties 50/50. Eventually Bernier emerged as the starter and Reimer found himself as the backup. If one of those goalies came in and took the ball and ran with it and emerged as the number one goalie, the days of Pavelec would soon be over. If Pavelec doesn’t solidfy himself worth his 3.9 million dollar cap hit this year, a compliance buyout has his name written all over it. Maybe the hockey world is wrong about Ondrej Pavelec. Maybe he bounces back next season. The hockey gods have funny ways of playing tricks on us.
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