Winnipeg’s Pavelec faces plenty of doubters

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Despite middling results, the Winnipeg Jets have spent quite a bit of money over the last few summers to keep its core intact.

Critics might claim that Ondrej Pavelec’s five-year, $19.5 million deal (expiring in 2016-17) represents the worst example of that strategy. On the other hand, his proponents point to acrobatic saves, a mediocre supporting cast and the fact that he’s just 25 as reasons why he can still be a franchise goalie.

Both sides would likely agree that he has a lot to prove, though, and the 2013-14 season would be an ideal time to start.

Paltry numbers

Simply put, Pavelec has the resume of a mediocre goalie. You could argue that his .907 career save percentage even screams “NHL backup.”

(For example: Dallas Stars backup Dan Ellis boasts a career .908 mark, although he’s five years older and hasn’t played in as many games.)

Those who judge a goalie by wins probably won’t be making a strong argument for Pavelec, either. He’s amassed an unsightly 91-99-28 career record to go along with iffy individual stats.

The go-to guy

It’s debatable whether teams are really wise to give one goalie the obvious starting job – particularly one who hasn’t really distinguished himself in a significant way – but the bottom line is that the Jets are putting all their eggs in the Pavelec basket.

Pavelec is being backed up by Al Montoya instead of Chris Mason next season. While Montoya is younger than Mason, it’s tough to imagine him pushing Pavelec all that much.

(Really, if he does, it might be a troubling sign instead of a welcome increase in pressure.)

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Ultimately, the Jets are likely hoping that Pavelec can just “figure it out.” Either that, or they hope that the team can lift his numbers as they improve around him.

Stranger things have happened, but many doubt that a breakthrough season is on the horizon for Winnipeg’s franchise goalie.

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