The Winnipeg Jets won't find out until 11 a.m. today whether they can keep newly acquired goaltender Peter Budaj.

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This article was published 6/10/2014 (2659 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Jets won't find out until 11 a.m. today whether they can keep newly acquired goaltender Peter Budaj.

Regardless of whether the Jets get to keep the nine-year NHL veteran -- who has to clear waivers for Winnipeg to send him down to their AHL affiliate in St. John's -- one thing is now clear: Michael Hutchinson has won the job as Ondrej Pavelec's backup this season.

Hutchinson impressed in a late-season call-up last season and had a solid, if unspectacular, training camp over the past month to earn what head coach Paul Maurice described Monday as "the right" to prove he's ready to be a full-time backup in the NHL."

"Mike has earned the opportunity to develop here. And if that means he stays and flourishes here, then good for us," said Maurice, describing Budaj as an insurance policy in the event Hutchinson falters.

"There's no crystal ball on what we do with development. Mike has earned that right, but having some depth in the goaltending position is something you like."

The move to acquire Budaj in a Sunday trade that sent forward Eric Tangradi to the Montreal Canadiens created some confusion in Jets Nation about Hutchinson's immediate future with the team, but in the end it proved to be much to do about nothing.

Hutchinson said he was informed by Jets management Sunday evening the team intended to keep him in Winnipeg and send Budaj down.

"Nothing really changes for me," said Hutchinson. "It's always great to have depth in an organization. It's kind of nice to have that because it creates competition and pushes you hard in practice."

Pavelec, meanwhile, took the goalie moves in stride. "We just got a really good goalie -- that was pretty much it for me," said Pavelec.

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Maurice poked a little fun at the media Monday when he was asked if the decision to send highly touted rookies Nikolaj Ehlers, Nic Petan and Josh Morrissey back to their junior teams was a bit disappointing.

Maurice noted there was also quite a bit of hand-wringing a few years ago when the Jets sent Mark Scheifele down, only to have him make the club last year and have a sensational rookie season.

"I was working in the media for parts of the Mark Scheifele debacle... how his career was coming to an end and how he was a total bust," Maurice grinned. "And now he's one of the best players on the team."

Maurice said he loved what he saw in Ehlers, Petan and Morrissey during camp, but they just weren't ready, for various reasons, to make the jump to the NHL. "I see so many of those 18-year-olds coming in, where you're watching them practise and you're thinking that it's going to be next year, or two years from now, when they're going to be able to do what they just tried.

"So they just tried to get around a guy and he got his hand on his hip. And that happened a bunch of times with (Ehlers). You saw what he was trying to do and you just know when he gets a little older, a little stronger, a little faster that he's making that play...

"We've got three really good young players that are going to be Winnipeg Jets. I loved their camp, but forcing them into the lineup had absolutely no benefit, in my mind, to them or the hockey team."

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One youngster who did make the Jets out of training camp was forward Adam Lowry, who was breathing a sigh of relief in the locker-room Monday.

"It's pretty exciting. You work all summer and your whole career to get up to this point and to be able to start in the NHL. It's definitely an exciting feeling," said Lowry, who the Jets said will wear No. 17 this season.

"I was pretty anxious to wait and find out. It's kind of out of your control once exhibition season was done, so I was pretty nervous."

Maurice -- who had Lowry practising Monday on the third line with Dustin Byfuglien and Mathieu Perreault -- said the youngster is not being kept around to watch the NHL as a healthy scratch in the press box.

"He's going to get an opportunity to play and not sit and watch games," said Maurice. "Those young guys need minutes. I like his game. I'm comfortable. I see a huge, huge upside."

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AFTERBURNERS: Sunday's moves pared Winnipeg's roster down to 23 healthy players and a couple of injuries, which is where they need to be by this afternoon's cutdown deadline.

Defencemen Zach Bogosian, who was injured during a game against the Calgary Flames Thursday, and Toby Enstrom, who was hurt in a game against the Flames Saturday, were both full participants in practice Monday.

Meanwhile, the Jets confirmed defencemen Ben Chiarot and Keaton Ellberby cleared waivers on Monday and have been assigned to St. John's.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.