Well, this came out of nowhere!
Shortly after locking up Nick Foligno to a multi-year deal, the Jackets locked up another crucial member of their core, signing Sergei Bobrovsky to a four-year contract extension.
Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 9, 2015
Aaron Portzline reports the deal is worth almost $30 million, giving an AAV of $7.425 million. This makes him the second-highest paid goale (cap hit) in the league behind Henrik Lundqvist. (Numbers courtesy of Spotrac.)
Bobrovsky is a Vezina winner, and the MVP of the Jackets. This deal is fair for both sides, and will only look better as the cap increases. Stability in net is a vital part of any championship team- and the Jackets just ensured themselves of having elite goaltending for at least the next four years.
Now in his third year in Columbus, Bobrovsky has appeared in 123 games for the Blue Jackets, posting a 68-41-13 record, with a .921 save percentage and a 2.43 GAA -- by far the best numbers for a Blue Jackets goalie. But, as we all know, the numbers are only part of the story. Sergei brings a boatload of intangibles to the table, not the least of which is the calmness and focus he provides to the squad in front of him. The club plays differently in front of him, because it can. His work ethic is unmatched . . .anywhere, and he has endeared himself with the fan base through his applauding of the crowd after victories and his ritual hug with Nick Foligno -- also the beneficiary of a new deal. In fact, we could have predicted that this deal was close, when Bobrovsky replied "More hugs, yes?" when told of Foligno's contract.
The Blue Jackets brass are to be commended for getting this done early, and for resisting the urge to provide a Garth Snow inspired eight year deal. Goalies are the left-handed pitchers of hockey -- absolutely essential, but just a little goofy and unpredictable. The guy who shuts down everybody one season can be a human sieve the next, without rhyme, reason or warning. Bob will be just 30 years old when this deal expires -- just over the average age of a starting NHL net minder. There is ample room and time for him to be rewarded for continued good play, and if his game should go south, the club is not tied to a massively long deal.
This sends a great message to the fan base -- and the NHL -- that the Blue Jackets are serious about the long term development of the franchise and that Bobrovsky is committed to the Blue Jackets. Aaron Portzline reported that Bobrovsky's agent reached out to the club just before Christmas, and that the deal was done in two weeks. That's huge.
This all amounts to just one thing: More Hugs! And hopefully a Stanley Cup . . .