There have been several times over the course of the short summer, where the return of Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets looked like anything but a sure thing. Between the lingering threat of the KHL, slow moving negotiations, and trade rumors on draft day, there were questions as to whether or not the Blue Jackets would be able to retain their Vezina Trophy-winning netminders.
Those questions became answers on Sunday, when the Blue Jackets, who were believed to be taking calls on Bobrovsky earlier in the day, signed the Russian goaltender to a new two-year contract. If that report over the Jackets shopping him was to increase leverage at the last minute, it certainly worked.
The Blue Jackets’ front office has had a good few months. They made a surprise run and nearly grabbed a playoff spot in the Western Conference, have built up their organizational depth, and acquired a new marquee name at the trade deadline, in trading for Marian Gaborik.
But the new deal for Bobrovsky has to be considered the biggest of wins for them. He came to Columbus as a career backup with very little starting experience. He came out of the 2013 season as one of the league’s elite netminders, and the Vezina Trophy winner in his first year as a starter.
The new deal for Bobrovsky is a two-year deal, and carries a cap hit just over $5.6 million. It’s just a hair over what the recently re-signed Mike Smith is earning, and the upside of Bob is, arguably, much higher than that of the Phoenix veteran. It’s a terrific deal for Columbus on a couple of different levels.
First of all, the fact that they were able to get him signed keeps him off the market as a restricted free agent, which saves them from a potentially massive offer sheet. A two-year deal also minimizes that risk over the 2013 season being a potential fluke. And $5.6 million, especially over such a short term, is a decent price for a goaltender of his caliber.
It’ll be interesting to see how these next couple of years pan out for Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets. It’ll be hard to top his 2013 season and potentially earn an even larger contract the next time around. But at this point, this is a big win for the front office and a brilliant deal for the Columbus Blue Jackets.