Winnipeg Jets keep goalie Ondrej Pavelec in fold with US$19.5 million



WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have come to terms with goaltender Ondrej Pavelec on a US$19.5-million, five-year deal.

“You always want to stay as long as you can in a city you like,” he said by phone from his native Czech Republic after the deal was announced.

“It’s something I was looking for . . It was easy to sign a five-year deal that’s for sure.”

The 24-year-old had been headed to restricted free agency this summer. He made $1.3 million last season.

He said he liked the atmosphere in Winnipeg and the fan support, even though he admitted the Jets didn’t always play their best last season. The former Atlanta Thrashers missed the playoffs again.

Pavelec appeared in 68 games, compiling a 29-28-9 record, 2.91 goals against average and 0.906 save percentage. He was originally drafted by Atlanta in the second round in the 2005 NHL draft.

Jets backup Chris Mason is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. But he says he wants back with the team.

Winnipeg also acquired the rights to Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson over the weekend at the NHL draft.

Pavelec had other offers but he said returning to Winnipeg was always his first choice.

“Everybody knows that I had an offer from the KHL. It’s hardly a secret,” he said. “It was really good money but . . . first thing I was thinking is I want to stay in Winnipeg.”

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