Al Montoya shut down one of the better offensive teams in hockey when the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Ottawa Senators 1-0 on Saturday. Montoya was excellent, stopping all 33 shots in a shutout victory on the road. Given the struggles of the Winnipeg Jets to find consistency in away games, a tight victory against a good team marked by stellar goaltending could be a turning point to a mediocre season. The Winnipeg Jets should give serious consideration to starting Al Montoya over a struggling Ondrej Pavelec after their latest upset victory on the road.
Al Montoya has not had a great start to the season. Counting his shutout, Montoya has given up seven goals in three appearances this year. Montoya’s 2.68 GAA is rather pedestrian and, despite 33 saves on Saturday, Montoya has stopped less than 90% of the shots he’s faced.
Still, Ondrej Pavelec has been no better. In nine starts, Pavelec has allowed more than three goals per game with a lowly .885 saves percentage. While Pavelec has shown flashes of brilliance and endless potential dating back to the days of the Atlanta Thrashers, he has allowed an average of three goals per game with a losing record over the course of his six-season career. Despite his $3.9 million cap hit through 2017, perhaps it is time to evaluate whether Ondrej Pavelec is a legitimate franchise goaltender.
With the new NHL amnesty clause and an excited fan base in Winnipeg, cutting ties with Pavelec is a legitimate option. The team can afford to pay Pavelec’s severance and it is possible that Al Montoya could be a better option for the Jets going forward.
Montoya, just two years older than the 25-year-old Pavelec, has been inconsistent since a promising first two years in the NHL. The former Phoenix Coyotes backup posted solid numbers early in his career in limited appearances. Recently, however, Montoya has been mediocre before taking on a backup role again with the Jets.
After putting poor outings early in the season behind him, the Winnipeg Jets should give Al Montoya a chance to build off the momentum from his shutout victory. With a drastic drop in the salary cap on the horizon next year, Ondrej Pavelec has proven he isn’t worth the extension he recently signed. Winnipeg must be willing to cut ties with Pavelec after years of mediocre play, or they may be struck with a Rick DiPietro-like situation, like Montoya’s former team, the New York Islanders.