Amidst struggles in the crease, the Winnipeg Jets have recalled once-ace and now highly-paid AHLer Ondrej Pavelec to the NHL club.
The move comes as a surprise but not a shock. Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson have struggled in net for much of the season, and particularly of late. The 23-year-old Hellebuyck, the club’s consensus future of ace netminder, has put up modest-but-not-good-enough save percentage and GAA numbers of .907 and 2.82 while going 16-13-1. Hutchinson, meanwhile, has been an ugly 4-10-3 to go along with .894 and 3.23.
Winnipeg has allowed more than three goals in seven of its last 10 games, the Jets going 3-6-1 over that stretch. The Jets rank 26th in the NHL in save percentage, at .899.
Splitting net time with Eric Comrie for Manitoba, Pavelec has played 18 games in the AHL this season, going 8-7-2 with a .917 save percentage and 2.78 GAA. He’s a veteran of 371 NHL games, and was the team’s go-to netminder for the better part of six years going back to the franchise’s final season in Atlanta before moving to Winnipeg in 2011. He’s 148-154-47 in his career with .907 and 2.85 totals to go along with 17 shutouts.
In the final year of a five-year, $19.5 million deal, Pavelec was the odd-man out in what was a strange goalie controversy that was largely based on financials, with Pavelec’s $3.9 million cap burden the only thing keeping him around. He was waived prior to the season, subsequently clearing waivers and being sent to the AHL.