Jets’ biggest question: Who will take the reins in goal?

1 Comment

One of the bigger questions for the Winnipeg Jets heading into the 2015-16 season is who will grab the starter’s role in goal and run with it.

Ondrej Pavelec began the 2014-15 season as the Jets’ No. 1 goaltender starting 15 of the first 16 games. He started sharing the net with rookie Michael Hutchinson in late November and lost his starting role by February.

“Ondrej played through some difficult circumstances this year,” Cheveldayoff said per the Winnipeg Sun. “Pro athletes have to learn how to handle those kinds of adversities.”

Pavelec finished the season with a 22-16-8 record while posting a career-best .920 save percentage and a 2.28 G.A.A. in 50 regular season appearances. While the Jets were in the hunt for a playoff spot, Pavelec went 9-2-1 and recorded three shutouts in his final 12 decisions. The 27-year-old struggled again in the playoffs posting an .891 save percentage and a 3.73 G.A.A. as the Jets were swept by the Anaheim Ducks.

Hutchinson finished with 38 appearances last season posting a 21-10-5 record to go along with a 2.39 G.A.A. and .914 save percentage. The 25-year-old had a strong first half, but faltered down the stretch posting an .890 save percentage in his final 15 games.

Despite the inconsistencies, Cheveldayoff believes the Pavelec can be the team’s starter going forward.

“We’re excited to have him as our No. 1 goalie,” Cheveldayoff said during his end-of-season media availability. “We’re really excited to have (Hutchinson) as a guy that can push and continue to do the things that he’s done.”

Jets fans should also expect Connor Hellebuyck to challenge Hutchinson for the backup role at camp this season. Hellebuyck posted a 28-22-5 record to go along with a 2.58 G.A.A. and a .921 save percentage in his rookie season with the St. John’s IceCaps.

The 22-year-old was the starting goaltender at the AHL all-star game and represented the U.S. at the world championship leading the Americans to a third place finish.

Related: Under Pressure: Dustin Byfuglien