Ondrej Pavelec has clearly been given the starting goalie position for the Winnipeg Jets once again. The Jets cannot say no to the temptation of playing Pavelec every game. It is stupid and inhibiting the Jets plan to draft and develop when it comes to Connor Hellebuyck. Besides impeding on Hellebuyck’s development, Pavelec has not been playing well at all. The shine that the organization has taken to giving him is unwarranted and should lead to questions about what the Jets are trying to accomplish in Winnipeg.
Pavelec has been and will always be what he is. He had one good season with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. He is not a good goalie, yet he has had more chances to show he is a starting goalie than any other goalie in the NHL. He just is not good enough and the Jets refuse to do the right thing when presented with that information.
This year it looked like the right thing would finally be done. It looked like Pavelec would spend the year in the AHL, Hellebuyck would be the starter in the NHL and Michael Hutchinson would be his back-up and the goalie exposed in the expansion draft in June. How sweet it was to be so naive when it came to the Jets and their goalies. How young and innocent we were.
In January the Jets recalled Pavelec after Hellebuyck started to emulate his playing style. Instead of telling everyone to be patient, that Hellebuyck was young, and his best days are ahead of him; they re-called Pavelec and handed him the net. Paul Maurice started him in back-to-back games. He credited Pavelec for the Jets scoring more goals. Meanwhile, Pavelec is in net letting in three or more goals in every single one of his starts. The last goalie to play who did not let in three or more goals was Hellebuyck with a shutout of the Calgary Flames on January 9. It has been almost a month since a Jets goalie has allowed fewer than three goals. Let that sink in.
The Jets have had bad goaltending for a long time. Connor Hellebuyck has shown that while he still needs time, he has the capability to be a NHL-average goalie. While he might need more time and a short stint in the AHL might have helped him, the Jets are now stuck with three goalies as they seem to be enamoured by the allure of Pavelec. He is the goalie that everyone knows. He is the devil everyone knows. He is the goalie that has failed the team so many times it no longer feels like a failure anymore, just life.
Pavelec should not be starting because he has never been a consistently good NHL goalie. Hellebuyck has shown flashes and might have the skills to at least be NHL-average. The Jets insist on sticking with the goalie they know will never be more than below average. They refuse to let their younger goalies develop. Ondrej Pavelec is what he always was and once again, the Jets are sticking with him come hell or high water. Pavelec should not be starting, yet he will start again tonight.