Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets’ most valuable player, is without a contract extension, and he is becoming a subject of international intrigue. Goodness, does everything have to be so complicated around here?
Bobrovsky is due to become a restricted free agent on July 5. It is possible his agent is open to accepting, if not soliciting, offer sheets from other teams. There are also rumors that a club in the Russian Continental Hockey League is willing to offer a hefty pile of rubles to keep the prized goaltender in his homeland.
Until there is resolution, the Jackets and their fans must entertain the notion that their goaltender might be lost. The thought is not a pleasant one.
The winner of the Vezina Trophy will be announced this month during a televised special before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Bobrovsky is the odds-on favorite. He went 21-11-6 this season with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage, and his performance down the stretch was remarkable.
Beginning March 1, the Jackets basically had to win every night to have a chance at the playoffs — and Bobrovsky nearly pulled it off. In the last 26 games, he was 18-5-3 with a 1.60 goals-against average a .946 save percentage and four shutouts. That is the stuff of Vezina.
Negotiations between Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and Bobrovsky’s agent, Paul Theofanous, have not gained traction. There is good reason for this: Theofanous wants to wait, and it behooves him to do so.
Bobrovsky will be worth more if he wins the Vezina and/or receives an offer sheet from another team and/or receives an offer from SKA St. Petersburg — which might be offering something in the range of $10 million annually.
Bobrovsky is just 24 years old and coming out of his first contract, but he is set up to get a third-contract payday. All he has to do is sit tight past July 5 and the market will do the rest.
Is there a chance that the money will be too big to resist in St. Petersburg? That question is best answered with another: How strong is Bobrovsky’s desire to play anywhere other than the best league in the world? Considering the way he is wired, his preference is to remain in the NHL, even if he is a bit lighter in the wallet. It is as not as if he will be a pauper if he retains his Blue Jackets jersey.