The Columbus Blue Jackets are setting out on their offseason with one primary objective, but so far that’s been easier said than done. They know that signing Sergei Bobrovsky to a new contract is a priority, but so far talks haven’t gone anywhere with the backup-turned-star goaltender.
Bobrovsky had a breakout season for the Blue Jackets. He carried them through the playoff race, which saw the Jackets hang around until the final day of the regular season. He wrapped up the season as a Vezina Trophy finalist, and barring something unforeseen, will very likely win the award.
He’s a restricted free agent this summer. The Blue Jackets are trying to get him locked up before July rolls around, when teams can submit an offer sheet and hope he’s outside of the budget for Columbus. However, the front office for Columbus has made it pretty clear that they’ll match anything.
The mentality in Columbus is obviously to sign Bobrovsky to a long-term contract, regardless of cost. And it would appear that he’s earned it. He’s taken over as a superstar goaltender in this league, and was able to give the Blue Jackets the marketable presence that they lacked after trading Rick Nash.
He’ll see a substantial raise off of his entry-level deal, regardless of what type of deal he signs. It could very well surpass a $5 million cap hit. We don’t know what the sticking point is in contract talks at this point. It could be the term, it could be dollars. We do know that the Blue Jackets have no intention of letting Bobrovsky get away.
That’s what makes this such a tricky situation. The Blue Jackets are set to dump all of this money and all of these resources into retaining Bobrovsky, who is coming off of just one great year. There’s no guarantee that this is something that could be sustained over the long term.
However, this is also the first real opportunity he’s gotten as a starting goaltender. This isn’t a veteran that suddenly broke out with a fantastic year (Brian Elliot). This kid appears to be the real deal. And the Blue Jackets are absolutely smart to retain him at virtually any cost. As long as it’s not a 15-year contract (Rick DiPietro).