In just a couple of days, Sergei Bobrovsky is likely going to add a Vezina Trophy to his resume, adding to his bargaining chips as he heads toward restricted free agency this summer. That's something the Blue Jackets are already preparing for.
As Bobrovsky flirts with teams in the KHL, talks with the Jackets have picked up as they try to work toward a deal. Just to work a little more expediently toward a new contract and get Columbus' most important player back on the ice, the team is conceding Bob will be named the best goalie in the NHL this season.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen just wants to get something done and that's why talks have been ongoing. From Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
No deal is done. It doesn't appear that one is imminent, either. Bobrovsky would become a restricted free agent on July 5 if he remains unsigned.
"His representation is doing what they feel is best; I don't blame them," Kekalainen said. "We're doing what we think is best. I'm not discouraged at all. This is part of the process that both sides have to go through to get a deal done.
"But it's something we'd like to work at, get settled and put behind us."
Time is certainly of the essence. Getting Bobrovsky turned out to be one of the best things to happen to the Blue Jackets in recent years; he was the biggest reason why they finished tied for eighth, missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker. Keeping him is of the utmost importance for the franchise and the KHL looming is a great threat, something that probably will only make Kekalainen's task tougher.
In the end it's tough to imagine they won't be able to reach a deal with Bobrovsky to keep him in Columbus, but it's going to be pretty costly, even if it comes on the strength of just one good -- OK, really good -- season.