Pavelec big piece of puzzle for Jets

The Winnipeg Jets re-signed Ondrej Pavelec to a five-year, $19.5 million dollar deal Monday....

The Winnipeg Jets re-signed Ondrej Pavelec to a five-year, $19.5 million dollar deal Monday. (REUTERS)

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Another long-term commitment has been made and now it’s time to see if Ondrej Pavelec and the Winnipeg Jets can grow together.

Although both sides used different forms of leverage during the negotiations, negotiations were not as tumultuous as was originally thought.

Yes, Pavelec did get a lucrative offer to play one season in the Kontinental Hockey League, but that was never his first priority.

“Everybody knows I had an offer from the KHL, it’s not a secret, but I always wanted to stay in Winnipeg,” Pavelec said in a conference call from the Czech Republic. “It’s a process and another side of the business, it’s never easy to make a deal but this is a really good feeling. It was easy to sign a five-year deal. You always want to stay as long as you can in a city you like. As long as I can stay in Winnipeg, it’s better for me.”

Term and money were a factor for Pavelec, but it’s not like he held the Jets hostage for an outrageous sum.

The total of the deal is $19.5 million over five years, which is just shy of the $4 million per season I suggested going into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Over the course of the contract, Pavelec will make $3.25 million, $3.5 million, $3.75 million, $4.25 million and $4.75 million.

The value is fair for both parties, especially since Pavelec is giving up two years of unrestricted free agency.

Perhaps more importantly for the Jets, they got another big piece of the puzzle signed for the long term, just like they did last summer with captain Andrew Ladd agreeing to a five-year pact.

And in case you were curious, that carries a lot of weight in the dressing room and in hockey circles for pending free agents.

“It was very clear from the beginning of the process that Mr. Thomson and Mr. Chipman were committed to keeping the core of the team together and building a winning team for the city and the fans,” agent Allan Walsh, who represents Pavelec, said from his office in California. “That commitment to building a winner really had an impact on Pav and wanting a five-year deal in Winnipeg.”

You can’t underestimate the importance of that.

In talking to some folks at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft last weekend, there were some concerns that the Jets could turn into the Montreal Expos down the road and not be able to lock up all of their young players once they grow into stars.

This was an important step to poking a hole in that theory.

Getting Evander Kane signed long-term is the next step.

Don’t expect Pavelec to get complacent either.

All the security of a long-term deal has done is feed his desire to try to get the Jets into the playoffs and push himself to improve.

“For sure, I know it’s a big responsibility right now,” said Pavelec. “I’m thankful for this chance. This is (something) I always wanted, to be a No. 1 goalie in this city and try to be the best goalie in the NHL. That’s my goal.”

It’s also music to the ears of Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.

“The importance of having strong, stable goaltending is very important and Ondrej is still coming into his own,” said Cheveldayoff. “I believe that he is one of the best young goaltenders in the league right now and that he’s going to continue that trend in an upward fashion. As we grow as a team, we expect Ondrej to grow. We’re all going to push each and every player to the full extent they can be.”

Pavelec has certainly shown flashes of brilliance with the Jets, but now it’s time for him to take his game to the next level.


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