Since winning the Calder Memorial Trophy for being the top rookie in 2008-09 Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets has been downright terrible. Mason had a terrific rookie year posting a 2.29 GAA with a .916 save percentage to go along with an incredible 10 shutouts. But since that fabulous debut Mason has posted a GAA of over 3 with a save percentage of .901 along with 8 shutouts over the course of two seasons.
This season Mason, and the Blue Jackets for that matter, has been atrocious as he has posted a 3.36 GAA with a .880 save percentage. This puts Columbus in a bit of a bind considering they have little to no goaltending behind Mason, with Curtis Sanford being injured and Allen York being a decent backup.
So what do the Blue Jackets do?? Well they could look to move Mason, but his stock couldn’t be much lower, so it appears that for now he will remain with the Blue Jackets.
If you’re Columbus GM Scott Howson though you can’t sit around and hope that your team and goalie improve, especially after spending a tonne of money in the offseason. With his team struggling Howson has once again been put on the hot-seat and could be handed his walking papers if he doesn’t find a way to turn this team around quickly.
Because of the situation with Howson I can see the Blue Jackets being aggressive in trying to shakeup their net-minding situation, with a number of young chips to dangle as bait for teams with an abundance of tenders.
The best option for the Columbus, IMHO, is to call up their good friends the Philadelphia Flyers and inquire about the availability of Sergei Bobrovsky. Yes, Bobrovsky has been even worse than Steve Mason this year, but based on his success last year one has to believe that a tandem of Mason and Bobrovsky could turn a weakness into a strength for Columbus.
The Flyers have zero cap space right now, according to CapGeek.com, and Bobrovsky makes 1.75M for the next three seasons, prior to being eligible for RFA status, so the Flyers will probably be willing to deal away a backup goalie making almost 2M a year. The Flyers also have veteran Michael Leighton down in the AHL making 1.55M so trading away Bobrovsky wouldn’t hurt them much, unless Leighton once again got injured. Yet, with Leighton in the final year of his contract the Flyers might be eager to see if he can still be an NHL backup, as they could resign him for a reasonable price if they deem he can be.
So what would the Flyers want back for goalie Bob?? Well considering they would have to replace him with Leighton who has a very similar salary it looks like the Flyers would be asking for draft picks, and considering Bobrovsky’s talent I have to think they would ask for a second or third round pick, which seems like a reasonable price tag.
The real trouble for the Jackets would then become their cap space as they currently don’t have the room to add Bobrovsky’s salary. My suggestion would be to place Kristian Huselius on LTIR, this frees up the space immediately for the Jackets. This also allows Howson time to trade Derrick Brassard to free up the cap space needed upon the return of Huselius.
The downside of this trade scenario is of course what if Bobrovsky continues to struggle, and his presence has a negative impact on Mason. Then the Blue Jackets will be stuck with two weak goalies making significant money, but I think this is a risk that Scott Howson has to make if he wants to keep his job.
Yes, there are many other goalies available for Howson to go after that will not take as much roster shuffling, but I feel that based on the apparently strong relationship between Howson and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren that this deal could help both teams.
If you’re the Blue Jackets do you attempt to go after Bobrovsky, do you prefer the Kiprusoff scenario that I outlined in my last article, or do you go after another goaltender??
Next up....Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen of the Florida Panthers
All salary cap info courtesy of CapGeek.com