Recently, Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec conducted an interview with Czech news outlet Denik.cz about his current standing with the team. Courtesy SB Nation’s Arctic Ice Hockey, here’s a translation of what he said:
“We didn’t make the playoffs this season. We ruined it by ourselves and because we weren’t close to the playoffs and even if we made it, we wouldn’t deserve it. Journalist actually asked us if there’s anyway they will buy me out of the contract but the GM said that he count on me as the number one goalie for the next season. I’ve got three more years on my contract with the Jets, that’s for sure.
“However, you can never be sure about the things on the other side of the sea. There could be trade or the redemption of the contract. I don’t want to think about it now. The thing I am 100% sure about is, that I’ve got a contract for three more years in Winnipeg.”
Pavelec, 26, just wrapped the second of a five-year, $19.5 million deal with a $3.9M annual cap hit. It was, for the most part, a season to forget — Pavelec had some of the worst numbers (22-26-7, .901 save percentage, 3.01 GAA) of any NHL starter and missed time near the end of the year with a lower-body ailment.
Despite that, the Jets appear more than keen to move ahead with Pavelec as their No. 1.
In April, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff gave Pavelec a full vote of confidence, saying he’d be Winnipeg’s starting netminder going into next season; yesterday, the Jets told the Winnipeg Free Press they wouldn’t be using either of their compliance buyouts during the open window.
Still makes you wonder why the Jets wouldn’t at least explore the option, though.
Now is a pretty good time to be in the market for goaltending. UFAs include Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller, both of whom could be seen as an upgrade on Pavelec. The option to get James Reimer out of Toronto is also out there, and there’s belief Phoenix’s Thomas Greiss could be primed to make a run at a No. 1 gig.
This is also a Jets team, remember, that could use a shakeup. The new car smell has worn off steadily over the last three years, as fans and media have become increasingly critical of a group that’s spent a lot of money but failed to make the playoffs since coming from Atlanta in 2011.