It was a real surprise when the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Sergei Bobrovsky during the off-season in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. It wasn’t that the Jackets needed a new backup goalie – they did after Curtis Sanford signed with the KHL – but it was the fact that he’d been praised as a good backup to Ilya Bryzgalov, picking up the slack when Bryzgalov faltered. Many have to wonder why they would make this trade.
However, there are two lines of thought to the trade. The first says that yes, Bobrovsky was good at cleaning up any mess that Bryzgalov made. In fact, he did a good job, earning a 3.02 goals-against average and .898 save percentage. Unfortunately, that still wasn’t good enough to warrant his staying in net with the Flyers, and he was traded.
The second is also plausible. Back in the 2011 off-season, the Flyers signed Bryzgalov to that humongous nine-year, $51 million deal (some believe the need for accommodating cap space is the reason why Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were traded). Bobrovsky had good numbers, but the Flyers had invested too much into Bryzgalov to trade him away so soon after signing that deal, even with his blunders.
It’s telling that we can see how each player is now doing in the KHL. Bobrovsky plays for SKA and is 12-2-2 with a 2.35 GAA, .918 save percentage and two assists in 17 games. In contrast, Bryzgalov is 4-5-0 with CSKA Moscow and has a 2.41 GAA and .907 save percentage in 10 games. Perhaps their similar numbers are due to the change of venue.
Maybe the change to Columbus will be good for Bobrovsky. He’ll be competing for starting goaltender, which will give Steve Mason incentive to step up his game. In doing that, Bobrovsky’s game can only get better as well.