On Friday night the Winnipeg Jets’ losing streak extended to six games in a row with a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. This loss leaves the Jets’ hopes to make the playoffs this season in a precarious position heading into their next game against the Dallas Stars, who currently hold the last wild card spot in the conference. There are more troubles coming at the Jets, however, as their roster is potentially facing a few more holes. First, goalie Ondrej Pavelec didn’t return to the
crease for the second period after suffering what is being called a “lower body injury.” This injury was followed by another as Chris Thorburn left the ice after suffering a “lower body injury” of his own. In addition to this, Tobias Enstrom came close to being injured as well when he ended up in the boards. Luckily, Enstrom was able to return to the ice after taking a few minutes in the quiet room, but with Thorburn and Pavelec potentially out for the foreseeable future, the Jets will have some spots to fill.
Who Will Get the Call?
The most likely candidate to potentially receive a call up should Pavelec be out is Michael Hutchinson, current St. John’s Ice Caps goalie.
Michael Hutchinson would be the top candidate to be recalled from St. John’s if the Jets need another goaltender.
— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) March 15, 2014
Hutchinson, a player signed during free agency in the summer, played last season for the Providence Bruins and has been putting up some decent numbers this season for the Ice Caps. Hutchinson’s record for this season is sitting at 15-5-1 and 22 games played. His save percentage is 0.923 which is actually better than Pavelec’s own 0.902.
Hutchinson: Untested, Unsure?
One of the issues facing this potential call up would be that Hutchinson is untested versus NHL opposition. That is not to say that the AHL doesn’t provide tough competition, but it can’t be denied that there’s a huge difference between the leagues. An argument can be made though that the addition of a new-to-the-NHL goalie may benefit the struggling Jets and it’s worth the chance for a few reasons.
The first reason this call up will benefit the Jets is obvious: there is no other option. The Jets will still potentially have current back up Al Montoya to man the crease for the rest of the games, but they need someone to back up Montoya. Hutchinson has the best save percentage of the two Ice Caps goalies that are able to play (Eddie Pasquale is currently out with an injury) and that makes him the logical choice for the Jets until Pavelec returns.
Another reason that calling up Hutchinson could potentially benefit the Jets is that he could bring a spark that they have been missing for the last few games. While he’s untested, he will likely be eager to show what he’s capable of in the NHL and this excitement may rub off on the rest of the players who are, for lack of a better word, struggling to play consistently. It is also no secret that both of the Jets goalies have been struggling with their consistency over the last few games as well. Pavelec has been both incredible in net and questionable at best, as has Montoya. This is another area in which Hutchinson tends to shine. Timothy Bonnar writes:
…Winnipeg Jets prospect Michael Hutchinson has done a pretty good job of stopping pucks at every level in which he has played. His numbers have placed him in the top 10 of the OHL, ECHL and AHL over the last handful of seasons. We don’t know if these numbers will carry forward to the next level, but – as always – a proven ability to produce is never a negative.
Maybe it’s time for a new goalie to shake things up a bit with the Jets and provide a much needed change to the roster.
The answer as to where the Jets go from here will be answered in part on Saturday after Pavelec’s injury is assessed and they have a clearer idea of how long he will be unavailable, but in a pinch, Michael Hutchinson is the best option the Jets have.