Sergei Bobrovsky agreed to cash in rather than go long with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The team announced on Friday evening that it had signed Bobrovsky to a 4-year, $29.7-million extension. That’s an average annual value of $7.425 million, giving him the second-highest cap hit in the NHL for goalies behind Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers ($8.5 million.)
It’s more than Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators ($7 million), Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins ($7 million) and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens ($6.5 million). But the difference between those deals and Officer Bobrovsky’s is term.
Rinne? In the midst of a 7-year contract, through 2019. Rask? Signed through 2021. Price? He had a 6-year deal through 2018.
But GM Jarmo Kekalainen and the Blue Jackets were able to keep the term at four years, which is what you should do with a player in the sport’s most injurious position.
From the Jackets:
The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky to a four-year contract extension through the 2018-19 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.
Bobrovsky, 26, has gone 68-41-13 with a 2.34 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 123 games with Columbus since the 2012-13 season. He is 110-64-23 with a 2.50 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 206 career NHL games with the Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers.
“A common thread of every successful team in our league is outstanding goaltending and we believe we have one of the best at the position in the world in Sergei Bobrovsky,” said Kekalainen.
“He is a tremendous person and a very talented player whose work ethic sets the tone for our team. We are very happy to have him signed for the next four years.”
Bobrovsky, who is 15-10-2 with a 2.75 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and one shutout in 27 games this season, was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Month for December after going 9-1-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average, .937 save percentage and one shutout in 11 games. He is the first Blue Jackets player to be named one of the League’s Three Stars of the Month twice (March 2013) and he set a franchise record with a career-high 52 saves in a 4-3 overtime win at Florida on December 4.
“This is a very exciting day for me and I am very happy knowing that I will continue to be a Columbus Blue Jacket and be able to play with the guys in this room, to work to get better every day and help the team achieve our goals together,” said Bobrovsky.
Kekalainen played this thing perfectly. He wasn’t pushed around with the Bobrovsky camp’s KHL threats in 2013, signing him to a 2-year, $11.25-million bridge contract. Now he pays up to buy three years of unrestricted free agency, but in doing so ensures that (a) his franchise has a franchise goalie and (b) that what the Jackets are building here isn’t undercut with any sort of contract squabbling with their goaltender.
(Their star center? That’s a different story. See ya in three years at the negotiating table, boys.)
Someone’s always going to call the money absurd or the player unworthy of it, and that’s fine. As we often say: All contracts, like politics, are local.
Bobrovsky is their franchise player. Goalies are, by and large, things you keep until there’s a reason to jettison them. (Like having some hot-shot backup goalie that ascends to the job, which is the way it’s supposed to work, Vancouver.) Replacing one usually means drafting and developing your own or trading for someone else’s backup, which both have their risks, even if lightning struck for the Jackets with Bob. Option 3 is the UFA market and … well, they’re not all Jaroslav Halak.
It’s a smart move for the franchise in every way. Hail Bob.