The Winnipeg Jets announced a new five-year contract with goaltender Ondrej Pavelec on Monday afternoon. Pavelec, a restricted free agent, had received interest from the KHL in recent weeks but ultimately decided to remain in the NHL with the Jets.
While the team did not release the terms of the deal as per team policy, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that the deal is worth just under $20 million, carrying a salary cap hit of $3.9 million per season. That would be the 13th largest cap hit in the league for goaltenders, just ahead of San Jose's Antti Niemi ($3.8 million) and a little behind Anaheim's Jonas Hiller ($4.5 million).
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"I'm really happy that I have a chance to say in Winnipeg for five years," Pavelec said on Monday. "That's all I was looking for, to stay in a city you like. They have great fans there and I always said I like Winnipeg. It's behind me now and I'm just looking forward to success in Winnipeg."
Originally a second-round draft pick by the team when it was still based in Atlanta back in 2005, Pavelec has spent parts of five seasons in the NHL and posted a 70-79-25 record to go with a .907 save percentage. In 68 games this past season as the Jets No. 1 goalie he was 29-28-9 with a .906 save percentage.
Given his performance over the years, especially in relation to the rest of the league, this deal seems more than a bit excessive from the Jets (though, it's pretty great for Pavelec and his agent). Just consider that out of the 42 goalies that appeared in at least 30 games this past season Pavelec was 33rd out of that group in overall save percentage.
His even strength save percentage of .917 was 29th out of that same group.
His best season came during the 2010-11 campaign when he finished with a .914 save percentage, which is pretty much right around the league average. And now he's one of the 13 highest paid goalies in the league. If he doesn't drastically improve over the next couple of years, this looks like an overpay from the Winnipeg side.
"Everybody knows I had an offer from the KHL, that's no secret," Pavelec said. "But I always wanted to stay in Winnipeg. I said that so many times. I had the option to go to the KHL and it was really good money, but the first thing I was thinking was I wanted to stay in Winnipeg and that's exactly what happened."
Before agreeing to terms with Pavelec the Jets didn't have any goalies under contract for this upcoming season. Backup Chris Mason is eligible for unrestricted free agency, while the team also acquired the free-agent rights to Jonas Gustavsson from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a seventh-round draft pick over the weekend.