Jets say Pavelec has ‘significant’ knee sprain, won’t play until January at earliest

The news is in on Ondrej Pavelec, and it’s not good.

Per Jets head coach Paul Maurice, the Czech netminder suffered a significant knee sprain in Saturday’s collision with Shane Doan, and has been ruled out until the new year.

Maurice said Pavelec would return by January at the earliest, meaning the 28-year-old ‘tender will miss at least 16 games.

If there is a silver lining here, it’s that Pavelec’s injury has resulted in the Jets bringing up Connor Hellebuyck.

Recalled yesterday from AHL Manitoba, Hellebuyck — considered one of the best young goalie prospects in hockey — will (presumably) get his first opportunity at the NHL level in the near future.

Michael Hutchinson, clearly the 1B to Pavelec’s 1A in the goalie pecking order, will probably see the majority of the starts, but it’s hard imagine both Maurice and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff keeping Hellebuyck bolted to the pine, especially with his billing as the organization’s goalie of the future.

Which brings us to this week.

The Jets play four times, which includes a three-game road swing through Washington, Minnesota and Colorado. The Wild and Avs games are in a back-to-back scenario (Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28) — so Hellebuyck could be making his big league debut in a matter of days.

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