The Winnipeg Jets took care of one of their most pressing issues on Monday morning, clearing up any confusion as to who was going to be their starting goalie in 2012-13 by signing Ondrej Pavelec to a 5-year deal for $19.5 million or an average of $3.9 mil per season.
There are some folks who think the amount might be a little high, considering Pavelec has no NHL playoff games on his resume.
We think the number is fair for both sides.
You could make an argument that the $3.25 million Pavelec will make next season is a little high based on his 2011-12 statistics.
Fair comment, but the number wouldn’t have been dramatically less had the two sides gone to arbitration instead. The Jets bought two years of unrestricted free agency and those years cost a little more money but still the team enough flexibility to sign the other members of the core — like Blake Wheeler and Zach Bogosian — to long-term pacts after their contracts expire at the end of next season.
Evander Kane is also due a raise and we’ll be watching closely to see how long a deal he’s offered and at what dollar value. I do think this deal gets done, but a five-year deal might be a little more challenging to get to. We’ll see.
As I argued in the column on Thursday, Pavelec might be slightly overpaid in the first year, but in the fifth season (should his develop continue), $4.75 million might be a bargain — especially when you consider the rumblings out there that Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price is mulling over an offer in the range of $6 million per.
So you counter by saying Price is the better goalie and right now, that’s certainly true.
Pavelec, 24, said on his conference call his goal is to become the best goalie in the NHL. He knows he has plenty of work to get there.
He also said he had no issue giving up two years of unrestricted free agency.
“Absolutely not, it’s something I was looking for, a long deal. As long as I can stay in Winnipeg, it’s better for me,” said Pavelec, who was back home in the Czech Republic. “I always said that I like Winnipeg and I’m really happy for a deal right now. It’s behind me right now and I’m just looking forward to (having) success in Winnipeg.”
Pavelec also talked about how much he loves Winnipeg and what he enjoyed most during his first season here.
“Absolutely, the fans. There were unbelievable all year long,” said Pavelec. “Sometimes we didn’t play the best hockey, but they were always behind us and always support us. It was fun to be part of it.
“What was important was that I feel really good in Winnipeg and I’m really happy. I knew Chevy wants me to stay to stay in Winnipeg and I really wanted to stay in Winnipeg. I always believed that we could make a deal.”
Some thought Pavelec was simply using an offer from SKA St. Petersberg as leverage, but he addressed that as well.
“I had the option to go to KHL, it was really good money and it was really good. But the first thing I was thinking was that I wanted to stay in Winnipeg and that’s exactly what happened,” he explained.
Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters on a conference call from the American Hockey League meetings in South Carolina that he wasn’t threatened by the KHL offer.
“We’re dealing from an NHL perspective and a Winnipeg Jets perspective,” said Cheveldayoff. “All we can do is do our due diligence behind the scenes from a contract compareables. When you’re dealing with unrestricted years, there are some valuation difficulties in trying to ascertain what the right numbers should be. All along, we were dealing with our own information internally and putting forward what were fair and equitable deals.
“We’re very excited about locking Ondrej up and we’re actually even more excited that Ondrej wants to commit and be a part of the process of the Winnipeg Jets moving forward.”
What’s not up for debate is that this deal is important for the franchise. Sure, the Jets showed a long-term commitment to Pavelec, but he also has committed to them, which means he believes they can make the necessary improvements to take the next step.
“That’s another factor. We had a great group of guys last year and we always think of playoffs,” said Pavelec. “If you sign a five-year deal, you have to be sure the organization is going in the right direction. I want to win and I want to be successful. I really believe in my teammates. That’s why I signed a five-year deal.”
Having a good goaltender is critical to having success at any level, especially the NHL
As for the backup job, you’d have to think that either Chris Mason will be back or Jonas Gustavsson will be signed (both are UFAs on July 1).
We’re not privy to the Jets’ budget for next season, but we expect the Jets will want to spend less than $5 million on the two goalies at NHL level, likely less than $4.75. That leaves around $1.5 million (or less) to sign the backup.
Pavelec and Mason have good chemistry and it would be logical to reunite the pair for a third consecutive season.
But if the Jets are looking to get younger, Gustavsson seems like a strong option.
It’s going to be a busy week for the Jets as unrestricted free agency is right around the corner and gets underway Sunday.
A few other nuggets from Monday:
Receiving qualifying offers were: LW Evander Kane, RW Spencer Machacek, D Paul Postma, D Brett Festerling, D Arturs Kulda, F Ben Maxwell and F Maxime Macenauer.
Those cut loose include: F Fredrik Pettersson, F Mike Forney, D John Negrin and RW Eric Fehr, though Cheveldayoff said the Jets were still considering bringing him back, presumably at a lower salary and/or possibly on a two-way deal.
What do Jets fans think about the Pavelec contract (cast your vote in the comments section or on twitter):
1) Fair deal
I voted for fair deal.