There are so many good goaltenders in the NHL right now that there are usually only a small handful of teams that enter the regular season with a major question mark at the position.
Every year one of those teams seems to be the Winnipeg Jets.
Right now the Jets’ goaltending situation is a three-headed monster made up of veteran and long-time starter Ondrej Pavelec, and Michael Hutchinson and Connor Hellebuyck. All three goalies saw significant playing time a season ago (mainly due to injury).
On Wednesday coach Paul Maurice did not seem ready to fully commit to a plan for his goalies for this season, whether it be a rotation of all three, or running one starter for 72 games. What he did say, via Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun, is that when it comes to goalies you can’t make a decision and “give a guy a job based on two or three weeks,” and that the “body of work will have a bigger impact on your overall view.”
Reading between the lines here, that sure makes it sound like that it will once again be Pavelec’s job, and that he is not quite ready to turn the net over to one of the two young goalies in the organization that could potentially be a long-term answer in net.
Talking about body of work. Not giving somebody a job based on a small sampling. What other conclusion could it be?
The problem with the “body of work” angle for the Jets is that the overall body of work for Pavelec, when compared to his peers around the league, is not a particularly strong one.
Of the 61 goalies that have played at least 100 games since the start of the 2009-10 season (when Pavelec first became a regular starter) his .908 save percentage is 47th in the NHL. Many of the 14 goalies below him are no longer in the NHL. He’s had five seasons with at least 30 games played and a save percentage lower than .910. Nobody else has had more than three. The only others that had three were a rapidly declining Martin Brodeur, Ilya Bryzgalov, Mathieu Garon, and Steve Mason.
Since their move from Atlanta the Jets have been painfully slow to break up the roster that produced so many losing seasons as the Thrashers (it took them multiple years before they actually made an NHL player for NHL player trade in Winnipeg). It has only been over the past two years or so that they have started to overhaul the roster and bring up more players from the farm system. Pavelec has been one of the Atlanta guys they have been especially loyal to, and it has continued to cost them in the standings as they get goaltending that is consistently below the league average without anybody really being given an opportunity to seriously challenge him.
It does not seem to be on the verge of changing anytime soon, and that would probably not be good news for the Jets.