The Philadelphia Flyers put their faith in Sergei Bobrovsky to help them end their Stanley Cup drought in 2010-11. Of course, Flyers fans like myself were disappointed, which is why Ilya Bryzgalov was brought in during the offseason. Yet Bobrovsky was still a big help for Philadelphia while Bryzgalov struggled in the regular season - but he was still pretty expendable.
The Flyers are tied to Bryzgalov for the foreseeable future no matter what, so there was no real room for Bobrovsky, even as a backup for another year. As such, he was sent over to the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the NHL Draft on June 22, in return for three draft picks. But getting traded from the Flyers to the Blue Jackets has paid off quite well before.
Jeff Carter seemed to be a big loser when Philadelphia traded him to Columbus last summer. His stint there was a complete bust, which is why the Blue Jackets dealt him again before the trade deadline. It seemed Carter would just play out the string of a terrible year with the Los Angeles Kings - then of course, he went on to hoist the Stanley Cup with fellow ex-Flyers Mike Richards and Simon Gagne instead.
As such, Bobrovsky has to be a little encouraged, given how being traded to Columbus worked out for Carter. Still, that was a fluke for a number of reasons - and as a goalie, there's less room for Bobrovsky to get playing time if he gets traded to another team next year. With contending teams like the Flyers, Bobrovsky is just a backup now, whereas he has a better shot at starting for the league's worst team in the Blue Jackets.
For a while, it looked like Bobrovsky could be a long term starter for the Flyers, after his hot start in 2010-11. But like every single Philadelphia goalie in the last 20-25 years, Bobrovsky inspired hope early and then fell apart before long - like Bryzgalov is doing right now. In fact, "Bob" became part of a revolving door of goaltenders in the 2011 playoffs, which made it necessary to get a long term No. 1 goalie like Bryzgalov.
But even with Bryzgalov on board, Bobrovsky's Philadelphia career wasn't over yet. He became quite valuable as a backup while Bryzgalov stumbled - and even got to start the 2012 Winter Classic in his stead. Yet the Flyers had no choice but to stick with their high priced goalie by playoff time - and Bobrovsky's one relief shot in Game 4 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins turned out badly.
In just two years, Bobrovsky went from being the Flyers' future to being fairly disposable. And in the end, all he was worth was just a few draft picks from the NHL's worst team. Will he have the luck that Carter had and get the last laugh, while the Flyers and Bryzgalov remain stuck without a Stanley Cup? Even if he doesn't, Philadelphia might remain stuck and Cup-less either way.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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