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AIH Mailbag: Let’s talk about the Winnipeg Jets’ goaltending (and more draft stuff, too)

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Our latest edition of the mailbag feature to answer your questions on the Winnipeg Jets’ goaltending situation and more draft coverage.

Winnipeg Jets v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Hey, all! Welcome back to the Arctic Ice Hockey Mailbag! This will be a regular feature on the site, covering any questions you may have pertaining to the Winnipeg Jets. In order to kick your work week off right, join us each and every Monday for the publication of your questions and comments on the team.

In this week’s edition, we talk all about the Winnipeg Jets’ goaltending situation as well as more on the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

If you want to submit your questions or comments for next week's mailbag, you can tweet or direct message us on Twitter @arcticicehockey, use the hashtag #AIHMailbag, or email us at sbnarcticicehockey@yahoo.ca.

Enjoy!

Ed. Note: I felt bad for giving Andy a somewhat lazy, haphazard answer. So I’ve gone back and revisited this to provide a little more detail. Enjoy!

Great question, Andy. As far as I can tell, goaltenders are completely voodoo. Let’s start by taking a look at the last ten Stanley Cup winners and decipher who their goalie was that led them to victory:

Stanley Cup winning goalies 2006-2016

SEASON TEAM GOALIE REGULAR SEASON SV% GOALTENDING SALARY
SEASON TEAM GOALIE REGULAR SEASON SV% GOALTENDING SALARY
2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins Matt Murray 0.93 $7.01MM
2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford 0.924 $6.62MM
2013-14 Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick 0.915 $8.17MM
2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford 0.926 $2.16MM
2011-12 Los Angeles Kings Jonathan Quick 0.928 $2.77MM
2010-11 Boston Bruins Tim Thomas 0.938 $7.00MM
2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks Antii Niemi 0.912 $7.20MM
2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins Marc-André Fleury 0.912 $5.52MM
2007-08 Detroit Red Wings Chris Osgood 0.914 $3.70MM
2006-07 Anaheim Ducks J.S. Giguere 0.918 $5.64MM

Okay, so we can approach this from two separate avenues. There are either goalies who had very good seasons and happened to play on elite teams and goalies that happened to play on elite teams (oh hey, Chris Osgood). On this list, there are also a number of goalies that caught lightning in a bottle, such as Antii Niemi, or more recently, Matt Murray. Absent from this list, however, are perennially elite goalies such as Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist. Of course, this is of no fault of their own, but moreso the structure of their rosters.

In Lundqvist’s case, not only does he carry with him a hefty AAV of $8.5MM but plays on a team where the duo of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi command +$10MM and we haven’t even talked about Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, or Chris Kreider yet.

For Price, his AAV of $6.5MM is a little more digestible, however Tomas Plekanec, Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw, and Jeff Petry deplete resources to be used elsewhere.

But back to our list!

If we look closely, we notice two things: First, the “bellcow” netminder (ie: he who played the majority of his team’s playoff apperances) has not posted a sub .910 SV%. In fact, with the exception of 2013-14 Jonathan Quick, a regular season SV% of between .920 and .930 seems to be a common theme (note: it’s a small sample size but we’ll take it). Secondly, The combined salary of all NHL rostered goalies over the past ten seasons has only once eclipsed $7.5MM and has averaged $5.58MM over that span. (Aside: The Winnipeg Jets paid their trio of goalies $6.44MM last season) There are some freak outliers in these numbers such as the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings, 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings, and 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks, but for the most part, teams that win the Stanley Cup are paying their goalie(s).

So, what have we learned here? Well, if you’re a fan of the Winnipeg Jets’, I have two takeaways. One: Make damn sure your goalie(s) posts a SV% north of .910 with the hopes they finish the season closer to .920. Two: You’re probably in a position where you’re going to want to spend capital on a netminder - be it an investment in Connor Hellebuyck down the line or looking elsewhere. I feel you can get by with good-but-not-elite goaltending, provided you spend your salary cap dollars on other areas of your roster and spend on the right players. If you look at your most recent Stanley Cup winners, I think you will see rosters loaded with talent that happened to have consistent enough goaltending to get them through. So, if you’re Winnipeg, you can probably get by with Connor Hellebuyck and a reliable option alongside him to at the very least make an interesting playoff run.

Anyone who puts “Rowdy” in their handle named Rowdy will obviously have any question asked of me answered. If you read last week’s mailbag, you’ll know that I’m very fond of Juuso Valimaki as a prospect the Jets should covet. Having said that, if Timothy Liljegren is somehow available at the thirteenth pick then you absolutely have to take him.

In Liljegren, Winnipeg would be getting an elite skater to add to a blue line that already bolsters Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey. Further to that, he’s exceptionally gifted in terms of offensive creativity, moves the puck up ice well, and can carry his weight in his own zone. I have a very hard time believing he will still be on the board come the Jets’ selection, but if I had my choice between both he and Valimaki, I would: i) do cartwheels up to the podium in making the selection knowing that I’m getting a great prospect and ii) would take Liljegren knowing he will be making an impact in the near future.