Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff most likely has a full plate along with a full inbox these days. His to-do list must be longer than anyone could imagine. One name that is most likely sitting near the top of that to-do list is Ondrej Pavelec’s contract. Pavelec becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.
It is up to Pavelec’s agent, Alan Walsh to negotiate with Cheveldayoff to see if the right deal can be made, hopefully sooner than later.
If it were up to the 24-year-old from Kladno, Czech Republic, the decision would be easy, just come back and play in Winnipeg next year. Unfortunately for Pavelec and the Winnipeg Jets fans, the process isn’t that easy.
“I like it here and feel very comfortable here,” Pavelec commented the day after the season ended. “I would like to stay here but you never know what’s going to happen- it’s still a business.
“I think the team is really good and we’re going in the right direction. I like the city and the fans and the organization did everything to help us get comfortable here. I really like it here.”
Like almost every player in the dressing room the day after the final game of the season, Pavelec reiterated how dismayed he was that the team missed the playoffs but also noted how proud he was that the team never gave up the battle.
“Of course we’re disappointed that we didn’t make it,” said Pavelec. “It was our goal at the beginning of the year to make the playoffs and we didn’t, but it was a special season for us. For me, I was really happy to be a part of it…to be part of the first year of the new Winnipeg Jets. It’s been really fun to play here.
“We have a really young team. It wasn’t easy for us to come here everything was new at the beginning of the year which wasn’t easy at all. But, we battled hard all year long. You have to deserve to make the playoffs and you make the playoffs for a reason. It’s tough to make it; there are a lot of really good teams in the league.”
Pavelec showed a lot of growth and maturation as the season went on and truly earned every minute he played with the Jets. After playing 58 games in 2010-11 with the Atlanta Thrashers, he added 10 more to hit 68 this season. Through 68 games, he finished with a 29-28-9 record including four shutouts. He finished with a .906 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average.
“It feels really good,” said Pavelec of his number of starts. “I play a lot of games and I feel really comfortable in the net and feel really comfortable behind this team. I like to play. I always say that I want to play the games. I was really happy that I stayed healthy all year long and was able to play in those games.”
He attributes his ability to play the 68 games and stay healthy to his off-ice choices.
“I think I learned a lot from last year. It’s important how you manage your rest off the ice. I always like to watch TV and just stay home… I don’t do anything too crazy. It’s been a long year with a lot of games but a lot is how you manage your time off.”
Pavs’ favourite moment of the season?
“Every game in the MTS Centre has been amazing and I’m so happy I was able to be a part of it. It’s been really fun to play in front of these fans.”
Author: Kristi Hennessy