Establishing Ondrej Pavelec’s market value Part 1
Recently we took an in depth look into the market value of Evander Kane with respect to his prospective free agency this off-season. Well, Kane is not the only Jets player coming up on an important (restricted) free agent summer; Ondrej Pavelec is the other most important restricted free agent for the Jets this off-season.
The goaltender position is one of the most interesting positions in all of sport. Goaltenders face considerable individual pressure unique to a team sport such as hockey. The lonely island of the crease generally results in anointing a city’s hero or looking down upon a city’s goat. The line between both hero and goat is so fine that the same netminders can find themselves in both categories in the same season. Rarely is there a middle ground.
This season the Czech netminder, who has probably been perceived as more hero than goat, is earning a salary of $1.15 million. Before delving into Pavelec’s value on the market, let’s first venture into the territory of a goaltender’s value in the current NHL marketplace.
The Pavelec negotiations will provide fans with an indicator of how the Jets’ brass views goaltenders and their monetary value. Some teams, such as Chicago (Kevin Cheveldayoff’s former team) and Detroit, do not believe in paying goaltenders significant amounts of money; these teams have spent $3.26 and $3.0 million respectively on their starting and backup netminders this season. Teams such as the Wings and Hawks have been extremely successful utilizing this method. They make a concerted effort to spend much of their respective cap space on tremendous top-end defensive talent (Nicklas Lidstrom and Duncan Keith to name just two) and top-end offensive talent (Pavel Datsyuk and Jonathan Toews among many others). Goaltending, while not overlooked, is apportioned a modest amount of the team’s salary cap.
Conversely, the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins are spending $6.25 million of salary cap space on netminding this season. With the Bruins’ success last season and again this season, one could argue both methods work under the right circumstances.
This season the Winnipeg Jets spent $3.0 million (the same amount as Detroit, although it accounts for a higher percentage of team salary, as the Wings spend more money on player salaries than do the Jets) on the netminding duo of Pavelec and veteran Chris Mason. Both of these contracts were signed by the previous regime, leaving us with little in the way of evidence as to how Kevin Cheveldayoff and company wish to spend TNSE’s money on the goaltender position.
With the possibility of a playoff spot being of paramount concern to the Winnipeg organization, fans will likely have to wait until the summer to find out how much the Jets intend to spend on the netminding position. In the meantime, let’s attempt to narrow down the value of Ondrej Pavelec on the free agent market.
Ondrej Pavelec has seen significant starting minutes in the NHL since the 2009-10 season. Here are his significant goaltending statistics since that time:
Pavelec was a second round draft selection (41st overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Here are the other netminders drafted within the first three rounds of that draft year:
- Carey Price (fifth overall);
- Tuukka Rask (21st overall);
- Tyler Plante (32nd overall);
- Jeff Frazee (38th overall);
- Pier-Olivier Pelletier (59th overall);
- Kristofer Westblom (65th overall);
- Jonathan Quick (72nd overall); and
- Ben Bishop (85th overall).
Naturally, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask and Jonathan Quick serve as interesting comparables for Pavelec. For interest’s sake, we will not strictly limit comparables to Pavelec’s draft year and will include a younger netminder in Semyon Varlamov (23rd overall in 2006 NHL Entry Level) and an older netminder in Jaroslav Halak (271st overall in 2003 NHL Entry Draft) in this analysis.
Who needs a netminder?
Unlike Evander Kane, the market for netminders is not as significant as the market for a scoring left winger. Realistically, how many teams need or want to acquire a netminder?
Let’s go division-by-division:
- Washington Capitals: No (Neuvirth/Holtby);
- Florida Panthers: No (Markstrom);
- Carolina Hurricanes: No (Ward); and
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Yes.
- New York Rangers: No (Lundqvist);
- New York Islanders: Yes;
- New Jersey Devils: Maybe;
- Philadelphia Flyers: No (Bryzgalov); and
- Pittsburgh Penguins: No (Fleury).
- Montreal Canadiens: No (Price);
- Toronto Maple Leafs: Maybe (Reimer);
- Buffalo Sabres: No (Miller);
- Boston Bruins: No (Thomas/Rask); and
- Ottawa Senators: No (Anderson/Lehner).
- Detroit Red Wings: No (Howard);
- St. Louis Blues: No (Halak/Elliot/Bishop);
- Chicago Blackhawks: Maybe (Crawford);
- Nashville Predators: No (Rinne); and
- Columbus Blue Jackets: Maybe (Mason).
- Dallas Stars: No (Lehtonen);
- Phoenix Coyotes: No (Smith);
- Los Angeles Kings: No (Quick/Bernier);
- San Jose Sharks: No (Niemi); and
- Anaheim Ducks: No (Hiller).
- Vancouver Canucks: No (Luongo/Schneider);
- Edmonton Oilers: Maybe (Khabibulin/Dubnyk);
- Calgary Flames: No (Kiprusoff);
- Minnesota Wild: No (Backstrom); and
- Colorado Avalanche: No (Varlamov).
There are arguably seven teams that may or may not be interested in acquiring a netminder in the off-season. That number, however, could be whittled down depending on Martin Brodeur’s return for the Devils, the Blackhawks’ confidence in Corey Crawford, the Oilers’ ability to deal Khabibulin and their future plans for Devan Dubnyk, among many other factors. The market could, in theory, be whittled down to two or three teams that truly need a goaltender.
Click here to read the 2nd part of Richard’s analysis of Ondrej Pavelec’s fair market value.