Winnipeg Jets overpay Ondrej Pavelec

The Winnipeg Jets announced they have come to terms on a contract extension with goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff locked up the 24-year-old Czech to a five-year, $19.5 million contract.  Pavelec will carry a $3.9 million cap hit throughout the term of the deal, a big raise from the $1.15 million cap hit he had on his previous agreement.

It was rumored that Ondrej Pavelec had suitors from the KHL and could have been on his way out, even though he was a restricted free agent. His agent, Allan Walsh would neither confirm nor deny the claims that Pavelec could have been headed overseas. This was most likely a negotiating ploy and if it was, it worked.

Ondrej Pavelec is a good young goaltender who is making strides in his game and has some promise. He definitely was deserving of a raise. However, I feel that the Winnipeg Jets gave him about $1 million per year too much.  Cheveldayoff justified the contract by calling him one of the best young goaltenders in the league, which is a bit of a stretch. He was even considered by some to be the team’s MVP last season. Is 29-28-9 with a .902 save percentage and 2.91 goals against average MVP-caliber?

Pavelec proved he can be a workhorse starter last year, but he also proved that he can be streaky. The highs were highs and the lows were lows.  He wasn’t elite by any means. The Jets’ front office thinks he will be. Taking a look at some of the other goalie contracts around the league, Pavelec will sport a higher cap hit than the likes of Stanley Cup winner Antti Niemi, Jaroslav Halak, Jimmy Howard, Mike Smith, Semyon Varlamov, and Kari Lehtonen. As far as that company goes, I don’t think Pavelec is quite on that level, at least not now. He just isn’t a proven commodity.

The Jets are clearly paying for potential by doling out this type of term and money to a guy who has never started a playoff game, let alone established a level of consistency. It’s a good thing that he is back in the fold, because I think he can and will get better. The problem is, the organization has made a huge commitment to him and with that will come pressure from not only the team, but also the fans. With the amount of money he’ll be making, the expectations will be sky-high. Management has put him in position to fail.

Now that the Jets have Ondrej Pavelec signed, Chevy can focus on getting Evander Kane signed. And after what happened today, it should be very interesting to see how the Jets operate throughout the rest of free agency.

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