Goaltending rumors are everywhere right now. Speak to anyone in Toronto, Chicago, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Vancouver and here in Tampa and it becomes abundantly clear that this could well be the “summer of the goaltender” in the NHL. Names that come up often have been well documented here and by the mainstream media. You have Schneider, Luongo, Bernier, Harding, Lindback, Vokoun and Thomas all making their way around the rumor mill right now. However, it’s time to go off the beaten path and draft up a new solution that has only been thought of by a few. Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning should take a long look at Sergei Bobrovsky come draft day.
When people brought up acquiring Schneider, the thought was that he would come at a “discount” because he was stuck behind Roberto Luongo’s big contract. Well, while that didn’t exactly turn out to be the case, that principle does apply here. Bobrovsky is stuck behind Ilya Bryzgalov’s massive contract and his off-ice antics. Unlike in Vancouver, don’t expect the younger face to usurp the grizzled veteran. The Flyers have tied themselves to Bryzgalov for the foreseeable future.
As mentioned, this summer’s goaltending market should be a hot one. For that reason, it’s rather surprising that Bobrovsky’s name hasn’t been thrown around as much as some of his NHL counterparts. He’s young, he’s got NHL experience as a starter and he has shown that he can push through tough situations. Those are all qualities that every team would love in a potential number one goaltender. Looking at Bobrovsky and what he brings to the table, it’s hard not to see him as a “poor man’s” Schneider. At 23, “Bob,” as he is known in Philadelphia, could indeed be the long-term solution we are looking for in Tampa Bay.
The attractiveness of Bobrovsky is hard to ignore. He boasts a career save percentage of just about 0.910%, he stands at 6’2” in the net and he is a hard working kid. Why teams like the Maps and Blackhawks haven’t been linked to him is mind boggling; this guy should be right at the top of every team’s “want” list. Another plus working in the kid’s favor is the fact that he is signed through this upcoming season for a very affordable $1.75million cap hit. That’s far cheaper than guys like Schneider, Luongo and Harding are going to cost potential suitors.
At the end of the day, Steve Yzerman needs to be looking for a long-term solution. Sergei Bobrovsky could be that long-term solution provided he is given the opportunity. What’s interesting about Bobrovsky is the fact that his stats kind of tailed off with the arrival of Bryzgalov. Without looking too far into that, it would be pretty safe to assume that this guy is dying to be a starter in the NHL. Isn’t that what every young goaltender dreams of? If Bobrovsky ends up in Tampa he will be given keys to the figurative car. It could be a win-win situation for both the young tender and the growing Tampa Bay Lightning.
On a more comical note, with the KHL gaining ground in the hockey world and players like Radulov and Burmistrov struggling in the NHL, the whole “Russian factor” debate is raging once again. To respond to that argument against Bobrovsky, this columnist wishes that fans remember when this franchise has a little bit of success with a Russian tending the pipes.
Thanks for reading!