It would really be unfortunate if all the good that the Columbus Blue Jackets have done over the past several months was undone by an outside force. That outside force is the KHL, and are reportedly looking to poach a star player from this Blue Jackets club this summer.
We all know how important Sergei Bobrovsky is to the success of the Blue Jackets. Despite a new core group of players coming together over the course of the 2013 season, Bobrovsky carried them for stretches throughout, making him a lock for the Vezina Trophy this summer.
But while the Blue Jackets are pressing to get a deal done within the next month, as he is a restricted free agent and susceptible to an offer sheet on July 5th, they’re not the only team vying for the services of the netminder right now. They’re going up against a club in his native Russia.
We’ve known for quite some time that SKA St. Petersburg was interested in throwing some big money at Bobrovsky. And this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of the KHL trying to swoop in and grab a Russian player from the NHL, nor will it be the last time we hear of it.
Is there a real threat here? Maybe. But the answer could easily be no. Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets saw their talks move slow early on. With a player coming off of a breakout season, and without a track record as a starter prior to this year, you can bet that there were some hangups in the negotiating process.
What throwing SKA St. Petersburg in there does is gets the Blue Jackets at the negotiating table and more willing to give Bobrovsky what he wants. It’s no guarantee that he’s using the KHL as leverage, but it makes a ton of sense. We’ve heard of KHL interest in Bobrovsky for quite some time, but not the other way around.
This appears to be straight leverage by Bobrovsky. Expect a deal to get done with the Blue Jackets before July 5th rolls around. Now if things really turn sour, then it could get interesting. But at this point, there shouldn’t be much of a concern over losing Sergei Bobrovsky.