The Winnipeg Jets are an organization facing a great deal of questions as they head into the summer. Despite nearly grabbing a playoff spot out of the Eastern Conference, they have a lot of work to do with a roster that includes several free agents, while needing some serious upgrades at the same time.
One of the questions outside of free agency that they will face is in regard to their situation between the pipes. After signing Ondrej Pavelec to a long-term contract last summer, it’s widely assumed that he is the long-term answer for this club in goal. But is that really the case?
The reason for that question is the fact that we have yet to see Pavelec play like the franchise goaltender that he is now being paid like. This season was the first year of Pavelec’s five-year contract that carries a cap hit of $3.9 million a year. He simply has to be better than he was this season.
Pavelec has the skill set to succeed. He’s a big body in net and he moves well, though his positioning still could stand to improve. Despite the positives in his game, he has been unable to put it together at this point. His first season of that new contract included a 2.80 GAA and a save percentage of only .905.
Those numbers actually represent an improvement as well. He had a 2.91 GAA and .906 save percentage the previous year. It’s definitely the potential that earned him that new contract last summer, and not the numbers. Next year needs to be the year that the goaltender puts it all together.
In order for the Jets to be successful, and also to make his contract seem warranted, Pavelec has to be better. Perhaps a better team in front of him next year will lead to better results. But until he comes with a breakout season, there will be questions over whether or not he is the true long term solution for the Winnipeg Jets.