With the trade deadline quickly approaching, we will be profiling several players in the weeks ahead that are likely to be dealt by March 1st.
Ondrej Pavelec entered the league with much fanfare, but never developed into an elite goaltender. He’s had sparks of success—including 2014-15 where he posted a 2.28 GAA and a .920 SV%—but he’s regressed that past two years to a borderline AHL goaltender. Maybe Pavelec needs a change of scenery to reboot his career, but his current stats do not provide much optimism for increased performance.
Pavelec is in the final year of an escalating base salary deal averaging $3.9MM a year. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Bumpy is the best way to describe Pavelec’s season so far. In a surprisingly but not entirely shocking move, the Winnipeg Jets sent Pavelec down to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose to start the season. The Czech goaltender stayed in the AHL until Winnipeg finally called him back up on January 16th. He’s been the team’s starter ever since, but his numbers leave Winnipeg wanting more. Through his eight starts this season Pavelec has an .888 SV% and a 3.55 GAA. Unfortunately for Winnipeg, however, its other two goaltenders—Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson—aren’t faring much better.
NHL: 8 GP, 4-4-0, .888 SV%, 3.55 GAA, 0 SO
AHL: 18 GP, 8-7-2, .917 SV%, 2.78 GAA, 0 SO
Any potential suitors for Pavelec are ones in the market for cheap goaltending insurance. Whatever potential Pavelec may have harbored over the past two years is almost surely gone, and GMs see Pavelec’s current stats as indicative of his future performance. Nonetheless, one only has to look at Devan Dubnyk’s resurgence for hope that Pavelec turns it around elsewhere. Written off after underperforming in Edmonton and Arizona, Dubnyk joined the Minnesota Wild and immediately became one of the league’s best goaltenders.
Pavelec is a pending UFA which should ease the risk for teams looking for goaltending services. Teams will not be on the hook for Pavelec after this year, and the allure of goaltender insurance is strong. GMs know that losing your starting goaltender spells disaster for a team’s chances at a deep playoff run, so a cheap insurance option may appeal to some.
Likelihood Of A Trade
The goalie market is stagnant. Ben Bishop, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Jimmy Howard all remain with their teams, and those dominos have to fall one way or another before teams take a flyer on Pavelec. Pavelec could be the cheaper option for most teams, but it’s unclear whether his play will improve this season. The Jets may have to bite the bullet and accept anything they can get for Pavelec before they lose him to free agency.