After a surprisingly successful regular season that saw them hang around in the playoff race until the final day, the Columbus Blue Jackets now find themselves dealing with one of the higher profile restricted free agents, and resulting contract negotiations, with Sergei Bobrovsky.
In his first season as a starter, Bobrovsky did just about everything he could to cement himself among the league’s best netminders. Not only did he firmly establish himself as the starter very early on, he played at an elite level, and was the primary reason Columbus remained in contention as long as they did.
That resulted in him winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender, while a playoff berth may have also resulted in him grabbing a nomination for the Hart as league MVP as well. All of this has led his price tag to go way up, as he heads into the summer holding RFA status.
Which has meant bad news for the Blue Jackets. Not the worst of news, of course, as he could be a UFA. But negotiations to this point have been slow going. In fact, the two sides haven’t made much progress at all, with the highlight to this point being Bobrovsky stating that he was also negotiating with a club in Russia.
For the Blue Jackets, they are beginning to approach crunch time with these Bobrovsky negotiations. On July 5th, he’ll become a restricted free agent and will be at risk of an offer sheet from another team. Given the need for goaltending around the league, and the thin market, he’d fetch a mighty high payday. Which could be at least somewhat bad news for Columbus.
The good news in all of this is the fact that the Blue Jackets can match any offer. And they have already stated that they plan to do so. Which is smart, given his upside. But the Blue Jackets are at the point where they need to hammer out a deal soon, in order to keep his price tag from jumping way up. It’d be a surprise to see Sergei Bobrovsky anywhere but Columbus next year, but we still have a long way to go in the negotiation process.