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The “number one cop on the force” will be clad in Union Blue for the next four years, after the Blue Jackets and Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky agreed to a 4-year deal worth $29.7 Million (7.425 cap hit), making him the 2nd-highest-paid goaltender in the NHL (Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers is the only one with a bigger cap hit).
Good goaltenders are hard to find, and “Bob” has proven to be one of the best. In 3 seasons with the Jackets, Bobrovsky sports a 68-41-13 record, along with a 2.34 Goals Against Average (GAA) and a .924 Save Percentage. He’s also recorded all 10 of his career shutouts.
Bob has been essentially the heartbeat of the organization the past 3 years, playing mostly at an MVP level, even winning a Vezina Trophy for his play in 2013. Recently, he’s been at the core of the turnaround for the Jackets, going 10-2-1 in his last 13 starts, frequently rescuing the Jackets when they have been out-shot or out-played by an opponent.
There’s an old saying in hockey that your goalie needs to be your best penalty killer. Bob has been that, and more, with very few exceptions since he returned from injury this season. Since December 1st 2014, he has allowed only 8 Power Play Goals, only once allowing more than 1 in a game (a dreadful game in Arizona on January 3rd where the skaters in front of him did next to nothing to help). He killed 44 of his last 52 penalties (84.6) since December 1st, helping the Blue Jackets PK% jump from 30th in the NHL up to 19th.
Bobrovsky was named the 3rd Star of the NHL in December, a month in which he led his team to a 10-1-1 record, the best in franchise history. Individually, Bob was 9-1-1, with a .937 SV% and 2.13 GAA in December.
The 26-year-old netminder was scheduled to be a Restricted Free Agent on July 1st, the last year he would be eligible to be an RFA. By signing this extension, he foregoes 3 years of potentially being an Unrestricted Free Agent.
Signing today is a surprising move, as Bobrovsky’s camp had previously cut off talks of an extension, preferring instead to wait until the offseason. The popular belief was that he would have more leverage if he led the Blue Jackets to their first playoff series win in franchise history. My personal speculation is that Bob was banking on having the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League, Russia’s top hockey league) to fall back on if negotiations didn’t go his way with Columbus. With the rapid devaluation of the ruble in Russia, very few top players will opt to return there, making the NHL the no-contest top destination for professional hockey players.
Additionally, it’s surprising that both Bobrovsky and his pal Nick Foligno both signed extensions just a couple of weeks before the NHL All-Star Game, which will take place in Columbus. Both appear to be locks for the roster, but both signed before the rosters were announced.
In terms of contract analysis, the money and the term are probably steep for most NHL goalies. Many NHL teams are reluctant to give long term deals to goaltenders, and certainly are gun-shy about giving them large cap hits.
Bob is great with the fans, commitment to improving his own game, and motivated to get THIS TEAM a Stanley Cup. Most importantly, his dedication and loyalty to the city of Columbus is something that you truly can’t put a price on.
Link to original article can be found HERE.