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Ondrej Pavelec assigned to American Hockey League

Jets goaltender will join Manitoba if he clears waivers @NHLdotcom

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was among eight players the Winnipeg Jets assigned to Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Monday.

Pavelec's reassignment is pending waivers.

"Difficult decision when you're moving kind of a veteran player out, that's had some good work and good performance to his resume," coach Paul Maurice told the Jets website. "We've done that with other players and that's going to continue here when you look at the number of young players that are still here today. But it's part of that growth process.

"None of this stuff comes in a vacuum. They're all aware of the potential outcomes, the possibilities. It's real short, very professional meeting. [Pavelec] handled it like a pro and he understands the eventualities."

Goaltenders Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson remain with the Jets, who will open the season against the Carolina Hurricanes at MTS Centre on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-CR).

"Obviously you feel for [Pavelec]," Hutchinson said. "We're close friends and it's always tough when it happens. It's unfortunate but management had to make a bunch of tough decisions today. Not just at goal but forward and defense. There's a lot of good players that are going to start opening day on the roster, but it's a long season."

Pavelec, 29, is entering the final season of a five-year, $19.5 million contract with an NHL salary-cap charge of $3.9 million, according to General Fanager. He was 13-13-4 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in 33 games last season. In 2014-15 he set NHL bests in GAA (2.28), save percentage (.920) and shutouts (five), and helped the Jets reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Chosen by the Atlanta Thrashers with the No. 41 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, Pavelec is 148-154-47 with a 2.85 GAA and .907 save percentage in nine NHL seasons, all with Atlanta/Winnipeg.

Also assigned to the AHL were forwards Andrew Copp, Marko Dano, Chase De Leo, Anthony Peluso and Nic Petan, and defensemen Julian Melchiori and Brian Strait. The assignements for Peluso, Strait and Melchiori are dependent on them clearing waivers.

"It's part of the business," Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. "This time of year is never easy. There's a lot of guys that have to move down that had strong camps and made a real good case to be on the team. It's kind of a tough day. I've been through a lot with [Pavelec] so hopefully he gets an opportunity and makes the most of it. He's been a big part of a team and we're definitely going to miss having him around."

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