The Winnipeg Jets have a goaltending issue. Ondrej Pavelec is signed through the 2016-17 NHL season with a cap hit of just under four million dollars per year, but his performance has done little to warrant the massive contract Winnipeg extended him.
Ondrej Pavelec’s struggles this season are behind all five regulation losses for the Winnipeg Jets and their overtime loss. With a record of 3-5-1, Pavelec is off to a sub-standard start. His save percentage is well below 90%, and his goals against average is at 3.28. Were these figures an anomaly, it would be easy to cut Pavelec some slack. Unfortunately, the struggles of Pavelec in net are nothing new for the Winnipeg Jets.
Pavelec was signed to his monster deal based on potential. The 25-year old goaltender has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, tallying ten shutouts in the last three years and carrying the Jets for stretches of time. However, the contract he signed brings heightened expectations, and Pavelec has come nowhere close to living up to them.
With a goals against average of three per game over the course of his career, Pavelec is far from a shut down goaltender. Quite simply, Pavelec’s performance does not warrant the contract he is signed to. With his struggles continuing this year and a new amnesty clause offering the Winnipeg Jets a way out of his contract, Pavelec may be on his way out.
For fun, let’s compare Pavelec to what many consider to be the worst contract ever given to a goaltender - Rick DiPietro‘s situation with the New York Islanders. Both goalies were offered high-salary, lengthy contracts before truly establishing themselves in the NHL. In the case of the Islanders, at least DiPietro produced solid numbers while showing #1 goaltender potential for nearly three full seasons.
Rick DiPietro’s cap hit is 4.5 million dollars, a mistake that costs the Islanders just about a half million dollars more than the Jets’ Pavelec. Though DiPietro’s numbers have skyrocketed in recent years, his career GAA is still better than Pavelec’s, and their saves percentages are comparable. Save for the injury history of DiPietro, one can make a statistically sound argument that he is actually the better goaltender between the two, and he was able to produce two seasons with elite NHL numbers, something Pavelec has yet to do.
Throw Pavelec’s DUI this winter into the mix, and the Winnipeg Jets have a recipe for disaster with their five-year, overpriced contract.