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Training-camp cuts see 10 would-be Jets headed back to junior clubs

Jets coach Noel confident in goaltender Pavelec

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Coach Noel said he has confidence in goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

JOHN WOODS / CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Coach Noel said he has confidence in goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

The Winnipeg Jets made their first round of training-camp cuts on Monday, sending 10 players packing to junior or minor-league clubs.

Few of the cuts came as a surprise. A whole pack of the Jets’ 2013 draftees are headed back to their junior clubs, including:

  • goalie Eric Comrie (Tri-City Americans),
  • Jimmy Lodge (Saginaw Spirit),
  • Jan Kostalek (Rimouski) and
  • Nic Petan (Portland Winterhawks).

A group of 2012 draft picks is also headed back, including:

  • Guelph Storm forward Scott Kosmachuk,
  • Lukas Sutter – who will go to spend a year under his uncle, coach Brent Sutter, with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels – and
  • Kelowna Rockets forward Ryan Olsen.

The Jets also released their three unsigned rookies. Towering 6-foot-6 forward Axel Blomqvist, just 18, will be headed back to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and will re-enter next year’s NHL draft after being passed over this year. Mitchell Theoret will return to the Barrie Colts for his overage year. Blueliner Zach Bell, meanwhile, has been assigned to the Jets affiliate St. John’s IceCaps.

The cuts leave 48 players in camp, including 2013 draft picks Josh Morrissey, Brenden Kichton and J.C. Lipon.

Top-goalie list omits Pavelec

The Jets’ goaltending numbers haven’t always been pretty, and while Jets fans crunch statistics and tangle over the reasons why – spotty defence? Bad positioning? – this much is true: they’ll have to rise, if the Jets want to make noise in the postseason.

With that in mind, Jets head coach Claude Noel conceded it was "probably fair" that ESPN’s list of the top 25 NHL goalies, released today, omitted starter Ondrej Pavelec from the ranking. "Judging from his numbers, I think those are assessments that get made in the media," Noel said after this morning’s training camp session at MTS Iceplex. "That’s their opinion, and it’s probably fair. Until his numbers change, then players get ranked a lot of times according to numbers."

To be clear, Noel said he has confidence in Pavelec, who will likely see his first game action of the year against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. But Pavelec is one of many players who will have to raise their game, he said. "I think our goaltending can help us get in the playoffs," he said. "We’re going to have to play a good team game. Our goalies are going to have to do their part."

"Yes, I am confident in our goaltending. I think it’s good enough to help us get in the playoffs. But that’s part of the solution. Our players have to check better. We have to do some things better from the previous two years to get in the playoffs, and goaltending is going to have to also pick up."

Adam Lowry and Chris Thorburn weren’t on the ice at today’s sessions, both recovering from injuries sustained earlier in camp.

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Updated on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 4:17 PM CDT: Adds details of first round of training-camp cuts.

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