Ondrej Pavelec recalled by Winnipeg Jets
Things are spiraling out of control for the Winnipeg Jets.
After rookie starter Connor Hellebuyck recorded a shutout last week, the team promptly dropped their next four straight games. The first two, in which Hellebuyck started (but didn’t finish), the 23-year-old netminder allowed a whopping six goals on just thirteen shots against.
Backup Michael Hutchinson can only be relied upon so much, and the team is getting frustrated – so they’ve brought back a potential (if controversial) solution.
It was confirmed on Tuesday morning that Ondrej Pavelec, the polarizing long-time starter for Winnipeg, had been recalled from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. He’s spent the first half of the 2016-17 season in the minors after clearing waivers this fall, making room for Hellebuyck to take over at the team’s heir apparent.
With a .917 save percentage and no shutouts in the AHL, Pavelec is doing well enough – but the team may not even be looking for a saviour.
Bringing in Pavelec is high-risk, but occasionally yields a reward that the team may be rolling the dice on now. Although his rolling save percentages tend to linger around replacement level at best (and outright struggling at worst), he finds himself playing up to Carey Price-level for stretches that Winnipeg will have to hope he’s able to provide now.
Even if he can’t provide that, though, the break Pavelec could provide for Hellebuyck may be enough.
In his first full season as an NHL starter, Hellebuyck has been all over the place. The defense in front of him has been as up and down as his numbers have been, but plodding through a tough year with no relief in sight could be damaging to the young netminder. By bringing in Pavelec, the Jets give Hellebuyck a chance to clear his head and re-set for the rest of the season.
Of course, that’s not the only benefit to having Pavelec play up – for the veteran, at least.
With his contract expiring this summer, Pavelec runs the risk of finding himself out of the NHL for good if he can’t show flashes of brilliance during his call-up. Goaltenders are sometimes given a second chance on backup deals, but the poor reputation the Czech netminder developed in his final seasons with Winnipeg could have damaged his chances there.
Winnipeg still sits on a 20-23-4 record. They’re just four points out of the postseason at the moment – so if they can find a way to turn things around, they could be in good shape.