Aug 26, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT
The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the middle of important talks with restricted free agent Ryan Johansen, but an even bigger contract negotiation is looming.
Sergei Bobrovsky entered the 2013-14 campaign as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and while he didn’t repeat, he nevertheless solidified his status as a great goaltender. Bobrovsky got off to a slow start with a 2.81 GAA and .906 save percentage through November, but he posted a 2.12 GAA and .933 save percentage for the remainder of the season to lead Columbus to the playoffs.
The campaign overall was still a step back from his showing in the lockout shortened 2013 season, but after years of unreliable work from netminder Steve Mason, the Blue Jackets can finally count their goaltending as a strength and that has been at the center of their recent rise. Given that Bobrovsky is only 25 years old (26 on Sept. 20), he is in a position to be the long-term solution in Columbus.
Whether or not that happens will depend on more than just his performance in 2014-15 though. After he won the Vezina Trophy, Columbus signed him to a two-year, $11.25 million bridge contract. That means he’s set to be a restricted free agent again in the summer of 2015 and this time around both sides will likely be very interested in agreeing to a long-term deal.
It will clearly need to be a lucrative contract and the numbers will only increase if Bobrovsky continues to excel. That’s a problem the Blue Jackets would be happy to have as without Bobrovsky playing at or near the top of his game, this team’s outlook is a lot grimmer.
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