The Winnipeg Jets' goaltending concerns/questions have been put to rest — the club announced Monday afternoon it has agreed to terms with Ondrej Pavelec on a new five-year contract worth $19.5 million.
The deal will pay Pavelec $3.25 million in 2012-13, and $3.5 million, $3.75 million, $4.25 million and $4.75 million in the following years of the contract.
The length gives Pavelec security and allows the Jets to continue to build around a player they think is morphing into a goaltending star.
The 24-year-old product of Kladno in the Czech Republic appeared in 68 games with the Jets last year, finishing with a 29-28-9 record, a 2.91 goals against average and. 906 save percentage. He was fifth in the NHL in games played, shots against and saves.
"Im really happy that I have a chance to stay in Winnipeg for five years," said Pavelec, who is in the Czech Republic, on a conference call.
"That’s all I was looking for, to stay in a city you like. They have great fans there and I always said I like Winnipeg. It’s behind me now and I’m just looking forward to success in Winnipeg."
Originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the second round, 41st overall, in the 2005 NHL draft, Pavelec had been reportedly seeking a long-term deal worth roughly $4 million per season.
There were also reports earlier this month that a KHL team had put a substantial offer on the table for Pavelec, but the netminder said Monday he wanted to remain in the NHL.
"Everybody knows I had an offer from the KHL, that’s no secret," said Pavelec. "But I always wanted to stay in Winnipeg. I said that so many times. I had the option to go to the KHL and it was really good money, but the first thing I was thinking was I wanted to stay in Winnipeg and that’s exactly what happened."
Chris Mason, Pavelec’s back-up last season, becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, as does Jonas Gustavsson. The Jets sent a conditional seventh-round pick to Toronto for the right to negotiate with Gustavsson this week.