When the reports suggested Sergei Bobrovsky might wind up getting $10 million a year, one had to be skeptical. Then, it actually happened. The Florida Panthers signed the goalie to a seven-year, $70 million contract on Monday afternoon.
Bobrovsky won 37 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season but will be remembered as the goalie who swept Tampa Bay. Consequently, it was an outcome few saw coming if any. Yes, the Boston Bruins eliminated Columbus in the second round but Columbus had finally won a playoff round. A lot of this was due to the play of the Russian goaltender.
It was well known that Sergei Bobrovsky expected to leave Columbus but apparently, he was more serious about going to Florida than Artemi Panarin. Again, the soon to be 31-year old brokered his last contract. The seven-year deal spans till Bobrovsky turns nearly 38. Why did the goaltender get such a contract in Florida? Let’s take a closer look at why.
What Sergei Bobrovsky means to the Florida Panthers
Honestly, Bobrovsky means the world and that may be no exaggeration. For what it is worth, the Florida Panthers develop goaltenders poorly. Part of why they drafted Spencer Knight was the fact that Samuel Montembeault again flopped in his limited time. Roberto Luongo retired in part to make cap room but also because his play declined to the point of no return.
Sergei Bobrovsky represents the stability that has been missing the past few seasons. The Florida Panthers make the playoffs rarely and they needed a top-flight goaltender to get them there. Bobrovsky played 60 or more games in the last three seasons. Also, he did not appear to tire like in previous seasons.
Florida does not have to worry about platooning goaltenders or hoping one of their prospects will mature faster than expected. The idea is that a Spencer Knight (first-round pick) can be groomed more slowly and not be rushed.
Furthermore, Bobrovsky represents one of the best free agents to come along among goalie ranks in years. With demand scarce, the payday was destined to be huge along with expectations. Bobrovsky’s two Vezinas demanded respect along with with his play the past several years.
A little Sergei Bobrovsky numerology
Thanks to Corsica Stats, we get a better idea of what level Bobrovsky has performed. While his 2018-19 numbers started poorly, they did pick up late in the season and during the playoffs. His season numbers were average but over the past three years, Bobrovsky maintained a top-three or four ranking overall.
Bobrovsky enjoyed an even-strength save percentage of .938 the previous two campaigns. Few goalies get to that level for one season, let alone two in a row. In 2016-17, he led the league in goalie point share with nearly a 15. That 15 represents the number of points above where Columbus would have finished without him.
When a goalie has a high-danger save percentage in the mid-’80s, that is also highly impressive. That is the level Bobrovsky performed at over the last 20-25 games of the 2018-19 regular season. Columbus slugged its way into the playoffs and the main part was Sergei Bobrovsky’s play.
Now, it is true that Bobrovsky’s later years of this deal could be painful. However, Florida needs a winner now along with the above-mentioned stability. The goaltender provides that and the ability to keep pucks out of the net better than Florida’s predecessors.
A few final words on Sergei Bobrovsky
The talent and coaching are there in Florida for the netminder to thrive. Can the Panthers put it all together? When one has seen it before, one gets skeptical. Time will tell how this works out but Florida snagged the best goaltender out there.