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Russian offer puts space between Pavs, Jets

High-stakes talks for GM Cheveldayoff

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TORONTO -- Ondrej Pavelec and his agent, Allan Walsh, with a little help from the KHL, have set the market for the goalie's services and are intent on pumping the Winnipeg Jets for top dollar.

Pavelec has reportedly been made an offer for one year at a rate north of $5 million with St. Petersburg in the KHL and is willing to leave the Jets and the NHL if he can't get what he wants.

The Pavelec camp reportedly wants a four-year deal with an annual rate around $4 million. The Jets must have a lower number in mind or a contract would have been signed by now.

The Jets had nothing to say when queried about the deal on Tuesday and Walsh again said he would not comment about an ongoing negotiation.

People around the NHL, however, are talking, and the viewpoint is a deal is so far from being closed that Pavelec may be on the trading block.

Pavelec was Winnipeg's most important player last season and is certainly worthy of a raise. He has yet to prove himself as consistently elite and still has some growing to do, making a top-dollar, long-term deal a bit of a reach for the Jets.

Three years at $3 million in the first year and climbing to four by the end is where Pavelec fits in today's market, according to league sources, but they say the Jets are coming in lower and Walsh is way above that range.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have to be at the front of the line of teams interested in talking about a trade for Pavelec and the Columbus Blue Jackets can't be far back.

There are a number of ways this could unfold, but a lot more will be known in the coming days. If a deal is not done by the end of this weekend, the Jets will have to file a qualifying offer by June 26 or file for arbitration.

The set qualifying offer for Pavelec is the same as his salary of $1.3 million of last season.

Pavelec can accept the qualifying offer, but that's highly unlikely, or he can file for arbitration by July 5. He also has the option of turning down the qualifying offer and continuing to work on a deal with the Jets or hope another team puts in an offer sheet.

The Jets would have the right to match any offer sheet or let Pavelec go and take whatever compensation they are awarded, which would be a first-round pick and perhaps more depending on the value of the offer.

The final option for Pavelec is to simply accept the deal in the KHL and take the resulting payday.

For the Jets, these are difficult days. Pavelec's willingness to move to the KHL may need to be put to the test if they want to stick to the offer they've tabled.

There is some talk Pavelec won't file for arbitration and if the Jets make that move, he'll simply take the deal in the KHL.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has some fast-moving water to pick his way through in order to find the path best for the Jets. This is a negotiation that will have significant impact on the organization going forward and is his biggest test to date.

TIDBITS: Winnipeg resident Scott Arniel is weighing a number of offers, one to be a head coach in the AHL and others to be an assistant in the NHL, and is expected to make a decision this weekend... Winnipeg native Craig Oster is the agent for Evander Kane and he told me Tuesday there's no truth to the rumours Kane doesn't want to re-sign with the Jets and he expects talks to speed up this weekend at the NHL entry draft in Pittsburgh.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2012 D1

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Updated on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 8:05 AM CDT: Cheveldayoff's name corrected

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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