Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made history on Saturday night, becoming the first Russian to take home the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. Bobrovsky earned the honor after a stellar season in which he almost singlehandedly led Columbus to within a few games of what would have been their second playoff appearance in franchise history.
The Vezina win should only drive up Bobrovsky’s asking price, but is also a testament to how important it is that the Blue Jackets re-sign the free agent netminder. Rumors continue to swirl that Bobrovsky is also considering a deal in the KHL, but a desire to help finish what he started with the Blue Jackets should keep him in North America if the price is right.
Bobrovsky won 21 games this season, including an impressive 8-0-2 run in March and an 8-1-0 run in April. His .932 save percentage was the second-best in the league, and he was fifth with a 2.00 goals-against average. Beating out established veterans Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks for the Vezina shows just how far the 24-year-old goaltender has come, and he has repeatedly stated his desire to show that this was only the beginning. Bobrovksy had experienced some success earlier in his career with the Philadelphia Flyers, but few were prepared fro what he did for the Blue Jackets this season. While Niemi and Lundqvist put together impressive seasons of their own, it’s hard to argue either deserved the award more than Bobrovsky. In 121 career appearances, he now sports a 63-34-16 record and a 2.49 goals-against average.