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Ondrej Pavelec Is Broadway Bound

Ondrej Pavelec Is Broadway Bound

The New York Rangers have come to terms on a one-year, $1.3 million dollar contract with unrestricted free agent goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec had spent his career in Atlanta and Winnipeg, but last season spent a good deal of time in Manitoba with the Jets’ AHL affiliate.

He had been earning $3.9 million per year on his most recent contract in Winnipeg, and had clearly lost the confidence of the Jets’ management, who demoted him last season in favor of a Michael Hutchinson-Connor Hellebuyck tandem. The Jets then signed Steve Mason to a two-year, $8.2 million contract today.

Pavelec, a big man with excellent mobility, had often shown flashes of spectacular play, but was plagued by inconsistency behind Winnipeg’s defensive group. Efforts by the Jets to help Pavelec pull back on his notorious depth were only partly successful.

The Rangers’ former backup Antti Raanta, traded to the Arizona Coyotes last week, found success with the team as a smaller goalie who didn’t need to challenge too high.

The Rangers’ highly respected goalie coach Benoit Allaire pulled Raanta back into the blue paint — not as far back as his creasemate Henrik Lundqvist but enough that “when I look down at the toe of my skate, I now see blue in front of it,” as he told InGoal Magazine’s Cat Silverman in December.

It will be very interesting to watch Pavelec’s game in New York. Although it seems that he has been around the NHL forever, the agile Czech is only 29 years old. If Pavelec is willing to submit to the tutelage of Allaire and the example of Henrik Lundqvist, and achieve a more positionally consistent approach, this could be the beginning of a second act for Pavelec in the NHL.

The Rangers are betting that his willingness to join the Jets’ AHL affiliate Manitoba Moose last year indicates that he will embrace a smaller role than he has been used to. He is mainly needed to provide 35-yr old Henrik Lundqvist with a strong backup to reduce his workload. Pavelec played 18 games with the Moose and posted a .917 overall save percentage in 2016-17.

 

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