WWYD WEDNESDAY: THE LAST LINE OF DEFENCE

Ever since the Jets were reincarnated, goaltending has been a favourite focus of controversy and that doesn’t seem to be changing. Well, in today’s WWYD Wednesday, that’s our focus.

In previous years, the main topic of discussion was Ondrej Pavelec’s incompetence as a number-one goaltender in the National Hockey League. For years, it was debated that the Jets would never be able to compete for a playoff spot with Pavelec in the crease. Well, the Jets are in competition for that playoff spot and Pavelec is still part of the team…however he’s not the main reason.

Some believed they had no choice but to stick with Pavelec because of the longevity of his contract but that he had potential to grow as an NHL goalie. Others held their head in their hands after he signed his deal and longed for the day the Jets would acquire another option, be it a trade or free agent signing.

Fast forward to present day and the Jets are set in goal and may be ready to move on without Pavelec due to the somewhat surprising performance of Michael Hutchinson.

WHAT DO THE NUMBERS SAY?

Hutchinson has played admirably with an astounding 1.62 GAA, and .943 SV% over a small sample of 9 total games played in. 

The interesting part is that Pavelec has had a great start to his season as well. Pavelec showed up to camp in the best shape of his life and seemed to have the confidence of new head coach Paul Maurice. When Hutchinson looked unstable in pre-season and his first appearance this season, Maurice rode Pavalec and his starter turned up with numbers well above his career average.

As of Tuesday evening (before the end result of the Jets game against the Dallas Stars) Pavelec had a reasonable .915 SV% and solid 2.30 GAA, which is good enough numbers for a starter over 22 games.

Hutchinson’s numbers may look sexier, but until the rookie netminder shows he can stay consistent, the Jets may be better served riding Pavelec, at least until he contract runs out.

It’s easy to look at the numbers and say Hutchinson should be starting more and more games. Jets fans need to pump the breaks and realize that small samples can be inconclusive. Hutchinson has starter-potential and he may be better served to just wait on the bench and gradually ease into an NHL starting job.

THE TRIN POTRATZ TAKE

If I were in charge of the Winnipeg Jets, I would’ve bought out Pavelec’s contract the minute it was signed…Of course I wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

However, now that it’s in ink and he’s a few years in, I would progressively limit Pavelec’s role while grooming Hutchinson so in two seasons he’ll be ready to play 60 games in the NHL. If the numbers stay within the ballpark of his career numbers to date it’s a no-brainer, and if he wavers away, i’d turn my attention to IceCaps starter Connor Hellebuyck who is having an incredible rookie season.

Life would be swell if I could make decisions, but this isn’t about me, it’s about YOU! Yes YOU. Is Michael Hutchinson the guy now??? Or is Pavy actually finally becoming the guy that Don Waddell hoped he would be.  

  • I’m a firm believer in sticking with what works, and what has worked with the Jets is alternating goaltenders. I would keep doing this until one of them completely falters then roll with the other netminder for a few game, similar to what Calgary is doing with Hiller and Ramo.

    I really like what Hutch brings and I think that he is going to pan out, but I also had no reason to doubt Pavelec’s play earlier on in the season. All I really hope is this healthy competition brings out the best in both goalies and the Jets team as a whole benefits from the progression in their games.

  • Kevin McCartney

    To me, the really interesting part this season is shown in the hexagonal charts on War On Ice. The Jets under Noel gave up way more shots from dangerous areas than league average. Under Maurice, they get fewer danger area shots than league average. That’s not news to anyone watching the team play, but what’s interesting is that Pavelec continues to let in a greater percentage than league average from those areas. In years past, those compounded to be a Serious problem in net. This year, only one variable is problematic and it feels more ‘solved.’

    Truthfully, the issue isn’t solved and Pavelec has to go. Obviously the team decided to let his contract play out when they didn’t buy him out. But Hellebuyck is one of the (very) few bright spots on the farm in his first year as a pro. He fits Maurice’s system much better, as does Hutchinson who is posting wildly better numbers than the ‘starter’ (.941 vs .915 as of today).

    At some point, the window with Buf, Enstrom, Kane, Ladd, Little, and Wheeler all in their primes has to match with the Scheifele/Trouba/Petan/Ehlers/ Hellebuyck cluster to get this team into the playoffs and it seems like waiting for Pavelec to naturally fall off the payroll isn’t the ideal way to do that.

    These are literally the best numbers of his career. Edmonton, Anaheim, Minnesota, Colorado, Columbus, and New Jersey have all had goaltending issues this season. Lots of them don’t fit for various reasons, but if a buy out is untenable, how about a trade where the Jets eat 50% of the salary? The team literally improves without him, so it’s like trading money for wins.