Hellebuyck gets the start in Jets’ season opener

AP

It will be Connor Hellebuyck who gets the first crack in goal for the Winnipeg Jets. The 23-year-old will get the start tonight at home against Carolina, with Michael Hutchinson backing him up.

The Jets, of course, waived veteran Ondrej Pavelec earlier in the week and sent him to the minors, leaving Hellebuyck, 23, and Hutchinson, 26, to compete for the starting job.

“Two good young goalies here that have both had blocks of time where they look like they have the ability to become number-one guys,” said head coach Paul Maurice, per Global News. “And they need that opportunity to show it and they’ll get it here with the two of them.”

Hellebuyck is the favorite to emerge as starter. He’s been considered Winnipeg’s goalie of the future since becoming a star with UMass-Lowell, making a Frozen Four appearance in his freshman year (2012-13). He turned pro in 2014-15 and continued to put up solid numbers in the AHL. Last season, he made his NHL debut on Nov. 27 and finished with a .918 save percentage in 26 appearances for the Jets.

Though Hellebuyck was decent, the Jets, on the whole, did not get good goaltending last season. Hutchinson’s save percentage was .907, Pavelec’s was just .904.

Granted, that wasn’t all on the goalies; some of the responsibility has to be shared by the skaters in front of them. But if the Jets are going to make the playoffs, unless they plan to score like the Dallas Stars, that save percentage has to improve one way or the other.

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