New York Rangers: Is Ondrej Pavelec the Right Man to Backup Henrik Lundqvist? 2
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 28: Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Winnipeg Jets skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Jets 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With Antti Raanta’s departure, the New York Rangers were in need of a backup goalie and signed free agent Ondrej Pavelec. Is he the right man for the job?

Many people were quite surprised when the New York Rangers signed Ondrej Pavelec as the backup goalie to Henrik Lundqvist.

Even more of a shock was the contract he signed, which was a $1.3 million contract. This for a goalie that only played eight games in the NHL last season for the Winnipeg Jets. Pavelec was 4-4 with 3.55 goals-against before being sent down to the AHL.

Pavelec was the second round draft pick, 41st overall by Atlanta in the 2005 NHL Draft. He was a full-time goalie beginning in the 2010-11 season that saw him play 40 games. He suffered a scary incident on Oct. 8, 2010, where he collapsed on the ice less than three minutes into Atlanta’s season-opener against the Washington Capitals.

Pavelec was taken off the ice on a stretcher and spent three nights in the hospital before tests determined he had a fainting spell. He returned to the lineup on Oct. 30, 2010.

As a member of the Rangers, he will probably be asked to play in at least 20 games which would give Lundqvist a 60 game season plus playoffs. So the question remains did the Rangers do the right thing in signing Pavelec?

The backup goalie position, as with most teams, is a pivotal one.  Unlike years past when the backup goalie was a player at the end of his career, a backup now needs to play 20 or 25 games and he is expected to win most of his starts. The Rangers have been extremely lucky the last three years where they have had Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta backing up Lundqvist.

Both goalie not only played some games, but they were instrumental in the success of the Ranger teams those years. How does the Ranger expect a goalie who has only played in 41 games the last 2 seasons step in as a backup goalie?

The goalie formula does not seem to work out successfully this time.

Why would the Rangers go this route? The play over the last two seasons for Pavelec has been poor, to say the least. he only has 17 wins with 3.16 goals against average in the last 2 seasons total. To compare, last years back up Antti Raanta had 16 wins with 2.26 goals against average. comparing goalies and numbers is not always a fair thing to do but considering a number of games Pavelec will be expected to play it is fair to ask can he handle the workload?

Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire has a great touch in teaching goalies subtle ways of doing things that can improve their game. With Pavelec being 29-years-old and what seems to be a struggle to find his game again, can Allaire teach this old dog some new tricks? The Ranger and Allaire must see something in Pavelec for them to sign him a backup.

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The Rangers start to the season will be fast paced with 13 games being played in the first month, which includes one set of back to back games, at Columbus on Oct. 13 and home against the New Jersey Devils on October 14. If past years are any indication, Pavelec would see action in probably 2 games one of which would be during the back to back segment.

Pavelec is going to have to prove himself on the go. There isn’t much time to take a break to work things out. His practices are going to have to be where he learns how to fix his mistakes along with watching Lundqvist play as he sits on the bench. Have to hope the deal works out for everyone involved or it could be a very long season for Henrik.

 NEXT: Blueshirt Beat, Off-Ice Training Ramps Up 


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Frank Curto

A graduate of St. John’s University class of ’91. I have been a fan of The New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes , pre /post game stats, and player quotes. Follow me at Facebook/RangerProud, Twitter @RangerProud & and @FrankCurto On Instagram, Ranger.proud