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With less than 24 hours to go before the bell tolls signaling the opening of the Unrestricted Free Agent market, it appears the Rangers have set their sights on soon-to-be ex-Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec.
New York Rangers likely to fill goaltending void. Ongoing discussions between the Rangers and Ondrej Pavelec.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 30, 2017
Having traded Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes as part of the Derek Stepan trade prior to the NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers created a hole at their backup goaltending position with no clear-cut internal solution to backfill the void with. Magnus Hellberg might have been that player, but opted to apply his trade in the KHL instead. Larry Brooks of the New York Post also reported that the Rangers had had discussions with Buffalo Sabres backup Anders Nilsson during this window in which teams can speak to players but aren’t permitted to discuss term, but according to Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest, he’s likely to sign with the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow.
The market on backup goaltenders wasn’t very big or bright to begin with, but it’s shrunk considerably in the last 48 hours with multiple players either re-signing with their clubs or reportedly striking deals with teams to officially be signed tomorrow.
After being sent to the AHL for much of the 2016-17 season, Pavelec, 29, was recalled late in the season and only played in eight games for the Jets last year in which he posted a middling .888 SV% and horrific 3.55 GA/A. Suffice it to say, if the Rangers are eyeing him as the next backup goaltender to Henrik Lundqvist, it’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears from goalie coach Benoit Allaire to rehab his career back to respectability. The good news for the Blueshirts is, given his career dip, Pavelec should come in at a very reasonable price point and might be one of the cheapest backup goaltenders available.