The Pro’s and Con’s of Ondrej Pavelec

Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Rangers dealt Antti Raanta to Arizona in the Derek Stepan deal, a quick survey of the market revealed plenty of useful options to serve as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup.  There was a decent mix of higher upside projects and relatively safe veteran choices.  When it came out that Benoit Allaire had zeroed in on Ondrej Pavelec for the role, many were surprised, myself included.

The 29 year-old Czech native (30 when the season starts) was a 2nd round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers back in 2005.  He had shown tremendous promise in the notoriously offensive environment of the QMJHL before getting his first cup of coffee the year after he was drafted.

Prior to signing with the Rangers, Pavelec has only played for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, so playing both in a new city and as a backup will be adjustments for him.  Since he has been playing in the Western Conference and has been limited to 41 games over the past two seasons, instead of trying to cobble together an outdated scouting report, I thought I would run down a simple pro’s and con’s list of the Pavelec signing.  Let’s see what Henrik Lundqvist’s new backup is bringing to the table…

Pro: He is tremendously talented

Pavelec came to North America as one of the consensus top European goaltenders in his draft year.  He has great instincts, good positioning and has capable mobility skills.  He reads the play through traffic well and can shut offenses down when he is on his game.  There is a reason Allaire felt that he would be a good project to take on.

Con: His technical foundation is a bit of a mess

While his underlying skill set is of high quality, Pavelec has some trouble with technical consistency.  His depth gets out of whack and tends to fall back on more athletic style saves on rebounds and scrambles, rather than adhering to his technical discipline.  This tends to open his five hole and leads to some deflating goals against.

Pro: With a few tweaks, he could be dominant in a 25-30 game sample

Pavelec already has a tendency to play deeper in his net, which fits perfectly with Allaire’s preferred style.  If the vaunted goalie coach can quiet some of the noise in Pavelec’s movement and get him to trust his own surface area and movement skills, it’s really not a stretch to think that he can continue a strong run of backup goaltending performances behind Lundqvist.

Cons: His conditioning and commitment to maximizing his ability have always been suspect

This has been the most consistent knock on Pavelec.  When you look at someone like Lundqvist who is fully committed to being world-class, Pavelec has the reputation on simply riding his talent.  Maybe being around a future Hall of Famer will put Pavelec in a good environment for success, but it is a concerning reputation.

Pro: He has handled a starter’s workload before

Pavelec has six seasons in his career playing over 50 games.  While the Rangers are assuredly in deep trouble in Lundqvist misses an extended period of time, Pavelec has shown the capability to step in for a lengthy stretch without forcing the Rangers to seek outside help.  I’m sure this was something of a factor for Allaire as Hank is firmly in his mid-30’s.

Con: Will he be willing to change his style at this point of his career?

In order for Allaire to be successful, Pavelec has to be willing and committed to making changes to his game.  This is often a tough ask for a 30 year-old with ten years of pro experience.  We obviously have no idea what type of human being Pavelec is at this point, but it would be a concern for any goaltender coming into this type of situation.  You assume that the Rangers’ front office has accounted for this, but until you get to camp, you never really know.

Pro: He has a Bruce Springsteen mask

Let’s end this with a pro.  Pavelec has a tribute mask to Bruce Springsteen, which is undeniable awesome.  Nothing endears your to New Yorkers quicker than worshipping The Boss.

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the quality of the Rangers’ other goaltender and we likely won’t know how to really feel until the players hit the ice.  Make no mistake, though, there is a significant element of risk here.  With Branden Halverson in the AHL, there is some insurance there, but if Pavelec falters, the Rangers would likely have to go outside of the organization for help.

What do you think of the Pavelec signing?  Sound off in the comments below.

"The Pro's and Con's of Ondrej Pavelec", 4 out of 5 based on 8 ratings.

32 thoughts on “The Pro’s and Con’s of Ondrej Pavelec

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 7:19 am

    2 words: Benoit Allaire.

    • Jul 14, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      I had the same reaction, in a way. You definitely beat me to it.

      Pros: Benoit Allaire
      Cons: Ondrej Pavelec’s issues to date.
      Advantage: Pros

      I really was personally hoping for Nilsson, but I didn’t fret like some to hear it was Pavelec they went with. Pavelec wasn’t at the very bottom of my list, even if not my first choice. If Allaire chose Pav, I have no real basis just yet to say it was the wrong choice.

      • Jul 15, 2017 at 6:49 am

        If Pav’s issues are technique related then I have no doubts that Benoit will fix them. I’m sure that Allaire had input as to who the Rangers signed.

        I guess I get up earlier than you my friend.

    • Jul 14, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      This and per the guys who think Lundqvist is underrated, so is Pavelec so there’s always hope…

      • Jul 15, 2017 at 6:50 am

        If Pav can take 25 effective starts then we are in good shape.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 7:22 am

    I have to believe that Allaire had a lot of input in this signing. He may have more confidence in himself than he should, but nothing tells me he is wrong.

    Pavelec is an old dog who may need a new start in a new home. Let’s hope he is up for the challenge as the NY fans won’t be too forgiving.

    Even more important is the hope that Hank gives us 60 great starts.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 8:25 am

    my intuition suggests the NYR have gone to the “Benoit” well too much with this addition, and it will be a “talking point” all season. with Benoit though, never say never.

    • Jul 14, 2017 at 9:52 am

      I consider this to be the most critical of the offseason moves and I was not a fan of the signing.

      With the strength of the Metro and the razor thin margin between making/not making the Stanley’s in the East, Hank’s backup is a significant piece of the overall playoff picture.

      Over the last four years this is how it has played out:
      • Raanta/Helberg – 17-8-2 NYR playoff margin 7 pts East playoff Margin 1 pt
      • Raanta/Helberg – 11-6-2 NYR playoff margin 8 pts East playoff Margin 0 pt
      • Talbot/Skapski – 23-9-4 NYR playoff margin 15 pts East playoff Margin 2 pt
      • Talbot/Biron – 12-7-1 NYR playoff margin 3 pts East playoff Margin 3 pt

      The margin to make/not make the playoffs in the East over the last four years averages 1.5 pts – that is essentially one win.

      I am inclined to agree with AD – this is going to be the test case for the Benoit theory and if it doesn’t work out we will be hearing it all year long.

      All that being said – the dude sports a Springsteen mask???. I am pulling for him already….

      • Jul 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm

        thanks for putting the importance of this position in perspective; i didn’t realize the margin has been so consistently thin.

    • Jul 15, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Talbot left and Ranger fans were jumping off cliffs.

      Raanta left and Ranger fans are jumping off cliffs.

      And let’s not forget that the Rangers’ D is light years ahead of any other since 2014.

      We will be fine.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 9:01 am

    In short, was surprised but trust in the process. Thanks for the synopsis.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I hope for the best, but expect the worse.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I think The Boss facemask is the best part. It will look so appropriate with a big Rangers logo slapped on there.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Cam Talbot was a nobody that came from a nothing D1 program.

    Antti Raanta was considered a bad teammate (remember his Tweet about hoping the ‘Hawks lose in the final), was demoted to third string in Chicago, and was close to flaming out of the NHL.

    Trust in Benoit. Trust in the Rangers scouting staff. I bet next summer all we are going to hear about is how Pavelec is ready for another shot at a starting gig.

    • Jul 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      I think the comment about hoping the Hawks lost was actually said in an interview in Finland. He didnt Tweet this sentiment out, but candidly spoke about how frustrated he was with the demotion that part of him hoped the Hawks would get swept out of the first round so he could just go back to Finland for the summer.

      Still not a great look, but talking honestly about your frustration in a foreign language interview is a bit more palatable than simply firing from the hip on Twitter and putting that out for everyone to see.

      Alot of European players tend to open up more when doing interviews back home in their native language.

      • Jul 14, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        He also was no longer a Blackhawk when he conducted the interview.

        • Jul 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

          I remember when we got Raanta, I though he was garbage and a serious downgrade from Cam Talbot. I trust BA.

        • Jul 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm

          It ended up being a great trade – Raanta for Ryan Haggerty. I thought Haggerty had something going but I was happy to get Raanta.

          Not sure what you didn’t like about him 43 – his last season Chicago he had a 1.89 GAA.

          I miss him already….But I do respect a man who puts The Boss on his face every night for work….

        • Jul 14, 2017 at 6:22 pm

          Yeah, Chris F, you’re right on all counts. I have no idea why I thought that was a tweet.

          • Jul 14, 2017 at 10:15 pm

            Our memory is shockingly unreliable. I’ve done it many times.

      • Jul 14, 2017 at 7:49 pm

        Ah, Finland
        The Monty Python song sums it all up:

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Looking at what Allaire has done with Henrik, Talbot and Raanta; I am on board with his choice. Was not my first choice, but when you think of signing Jonathan Bernier for $2.75 mill. this was a better option. I am concerned with how things will go if Henrik gets hurt, but if Allaire can work his magic we will be OK. I hear the concerns that he’s going to be 30, but remember Cam Talbot was in his late 20’s when he came out of nowhere as an Allaire disciple. Also remember Pavelec needs a rebound season if he wants to keep playing in the NHL.

    • Jul 14, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Yeah, in theory, Pav is a “low mileage” 30 years old. That’s why I’m not super concerned about his age, either.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I had him as a fantasy hockey goalie once. That is definitely a con.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Billy Joel > The Boss

    • Jul 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Billy Joel is from New York. The boss is from jersey


    • Jul 14, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      I have nothing but love for Billy Joel, but he absolutely no where near greater than The Boss.

    • Jul 15, 2017 at 6:55 am

      I’m on board Chris, the Boss is one of those over hyped stars that won’t go away. He should have stopped writing songs at 1980.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Pro: looked dope in his Jets away colors and CCMs.

    Con: unknown whether he can replicate such previous success in red, white, and blue.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Tangential, but Chytil signs a three year ELC w/ NYR today.

    • Jul 14, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      Great, that kid is intriguing.

  • Jul 14, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    I have faith that Allaire and the Rangers’ trainers will get him into the best possible shape and get his technique sharpened. I don’t know if he will be as good as Raanta, but he should be good enough barring any long term injuries to Hank.

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