“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Winnipeg Jets, we pick... goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
If there’s a guy that’s beyond worthy of being put under the microscope in Winnipeg it’s the 26-year-old Czech netminder.
Pavelec has been a lifer in the Jets organization getting his start with the team back in Atlanta. In the team’s final year in Georgia, he posted what have turned out to be the best numbers of his career going 21-23-9 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.73 goals-against average.
Since moving to Manitoba, life hasn’t been great for him on the ice. Check out his stats from the past three seasons:
2011-12: 29-28-9 .906 2.91
2013: 21-20-3 .905 2.80
2013-14: 22-26-7 .901 3.01
It was following that 2011-12 season the Jets re-signed Pavelec to a five-year, $19.5 million deal. Considering how average that season was, many people questioned it.
Now that his numbers haven’t improved (they’ve gotten worse) and he’s got three years left on a deal that counts for $3.9 million against the cap, it had some wondering if the Jets would use a compliance buy out on him during the offseason. That didn’t happen and now it’s on him to prove he’s worthy of the faith being put in him. After all, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff declared Pavelec as their No. 1 goalie heading into next season.
To make things a bit more dramatic, the Jets re-signed backup Michael Hutchinson to a two-year deal after he had three impressive games at the end of last season. Will he be enough to put pressure on Pavelec to perform at his peak best? That’s up to Paul Maurice, but he was outplayed by Al Montoya last season and still held down the starting job.
With the fans in Winnipeg growing weary of losing and Pavelec’s numbers not living up to the billing of being a starting NHL goalie, a shake-up could be on the horizon if he doesn’t improve quickly. It may be time for him to become “Pavelectric” on a nightly basis.
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