The Hockey Gods must be laughing right in the face of Philadelphia Flyers General Manager, Paul Holmgren, right now. Former Flyers backup goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was in the running for the Vezina Trophy this year, and he won it in a landslide, beating out New York Rangers‘ Henrik Lundqvist, and San Jose Sharks‘ Antti Niemi.
When the Flyers traded Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the end of the 2011-2012 season for second and fourth-round draft picks, they made a really bad trade.
Bobrovsky went undrafted in the league, but was eventually signed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Flyers in 2010 and he was really starting to come into his own as a necessary backup for the team. Trading him was a panicked move; the Flyers are an organization that cannot wait for results. This fact may have to do with how overtly involved owner Ed Snider is in the selection and trading of the players on his team.
For whatever reason, fans really supported Bobrovsky even after he was no longer a Flyer. Bobrovsky had his flaws; he faltered in the second half of the season and he really struggled in the playoffs. However, he knew that he had room for improvement and was starting to get better. The Flyers just wanted him to get better somewhere else, (somewhere like Columbus) and he did.
Bobrovsky won the Vezina this year in a landslide for several reasons. First, the shortened season definitely has something to do with it, as he only played 38 games this season. Second, he ended the 48-game season 21-11-6 with a save percentage of .932 and a goals against average of 2.00, while almost leading the Blue Jackets to a playoff berth.
It’s odd to see the Vezina go to a player whose team did not make the playoffs, but Bobrovsky really wowed the NHL this season. He’s a hard worker and his perseverance paid off for him, just not for the Flyers. Although Flyers fans may miss the backup netminder, Columbus has seemed like the right place for him. There has been less pressure for him to be a Stanley Cup winning goaltender right away, so he has had the ability to develop at his own pace.