Monday, 25 June 2012

Pave-Locked In

Jets fans can breathe a sigh of relief as the Jets' MVP from last season will remain with the team, barring a trade, for a long time. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff repeatedly stated at the NHL Entry Draft that he was working on a deal to get Ondrej Pavelec back into the fold, but a rumor of an offer from a KHL team seemed to put a wrinkle into the negotiations. However, all of those rumors were squashed today when Ondrej Pavelec signed a five-year deal worth a reported $19.5 million.

Honestly, I was a little worried at Cheveldayoff's strategy at first. He had Pavelec, an RFA, asking for approximately $4 million per season after last year's outstanding campaign, yet he had hadn't closed that deal. He has Chris Mason going to free agency, and it appears Mason may not be re-signed due to his age. He also traded a conditional draft pick to the Maple Leafs for the right to negotiate with Jonas Gustavsson, but there's no telling whether the UFA will sign with the Jets to be Pavelec's backup this season.

"I'm assuming we'll talk early this week and see what their plans are," Gustavsson's agent, Joe Resnick, said to the Winnipeg Sun's Ken Wiebe in a telephone interview on Sunday. "At the draft, we didn’t really have an opportunity to talk. There was too much activity going on. To be honest, I don't know what their intentions are."

The good news is that Pavelec will be with the Jets for the foreseeable future, and that stabilizes a position that could have been a serious weakness for the Jets had Pavelec decided to sign elsewhere. While Pavelec may not be a Vezina candidate just yet, he does provide very reliable goaltending behind a somewhat-shaky defence corps, and that has to make fans happy. Pavelec was clearly the best player on the ice in a lot of the Jets games last season, so locking him up might be the best move made by Cheveldayoff in a long time.

"You always want to stay as long as you can in a city you like," Pavelec said to The Canadian Press by phone from his native Czech Republic. "It's something I was looking for. It was easy to sign a five-year deal that's for sure."

It's nice to hear a player like Pavelec say that he wants to remain in Winnipeg. After hearing the complaints about playing in markets such as Edmonton and Winnipeg, getting a quality young player to sign without hesitation is a great gesture from Pavelec about the city and its fans. The fans, of course, showered him with praise last season, and I suspect that will continue going forward now that he's locked into his contract.

The deal offered by Cheveldayoff works for the Jets' budget as they allow their younger players to develop. Having Pavelec in the nets for the next five years allows the Jets a nice window to keep their momentum going. This is a deal that seemingly works well for both sides.

Now, we can only hope the CBA negotiations proceed like this negotiation did.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Peter Santellan said...

This was something Winnipeg needed to do. Now, if they can get Kane under contract for a fair length of time, the core of the team will help chemistry in the long run.