Goaltending has been an issue plaguing the Calgary Flames for the last several years. It was a recurring problem throughout the entire 2018-19 National Hockey League regular season, and continues to be a hot-button issue leading up to free agency this coming summer.
If the Flames want to continue building in the right direction, they desperately need to fill this longstanding void between the pipes. Come July 1, when NHL Free Agency officially begins, general manager Brad Treliving will be presented with many choices and opportunities.
There will be various goalie options for the Flames as many reputable netminders become available for signing, either through trade or free agency. One possible choice is soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Sergei Bobrovsky, whose extensive experience, endurance, and relatively young age may be just what Calgary needs to secure their crease.
Bobrovsky’s Starter Acumen and Credentials
Earlier last month, it was reported that Bobrovsky had put his Columbus, Ohio condo up for sale. This move came shortly after the Boston Bruins eliminated him and his squad, the Columbus Blue Jackets, in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With his looming free agency just on the horizon, the recent development may be a strong sign Bobrovsky intends to leave the Blue Jackets.
As far as his résumé is concerned, the Russian netminder has two Vezina Trophies under his belt, a respectable career save percentage of .919, as well as having started in more than 60 games in the last three consecutive seasons.
Concurrent with his superb win-loss record in these previous three seasons (41-17, 37-22, and 37-24, respectively), Bobrovsky’s credentials demonstrate his consistency, and his ability to deliver as a winning goaltender.
Bobrovsky Offers Both Youth and Wisdom
On top of his impressive track record, Bobrovsky is only 30 years of age. This is significant for the Flames because it means that, should they wind up signing him, they will have locked down a goaltender with many prime playing years left. Thus, as a signing prospect, he is a player who can serve the team in the long haul.
Age was always a question with 37-year-old Mike Smith, who, despite showing some flashes of brilliance on more than one occasion as Calgary’s starter, also displayed signs of wear and tear in numerous instances as well. A younger, yet seasoned, goalie such as Bobrovsky can be a practical solution to the age aspect of the Flames’ goaltending situation.
Not only does Bobrovsky still have a bright future ahead of him, he has already attained enough years and knowledge to achieve veteran status in the NHL. His wisdom can be valuable for the development of David Rittich, Calgary’s promising young goalie, who, coming into his third season as a Flame, is still searching for experience and direction.
Hefty Price Tag Could Be a Deal Breaker
Naturally, given all that Bobrovsky has to offer, signing him would come at a sizeable price. His last contract with the Blue Jackets amounted to $29.7 million for four years, with the annual cost being $7.425 million each season. Though it is not yet clear what Bobrovsky’s price will be once the offseason arrives, the Flames will have to prepare to fork over some serious cash if they hope to land the sought-after goalie.
Citing Bobrovsky’s cost relative to the Flames’ budget, Sportsnet‘s Eric Francis expresses doubt for the squad’s chances of landing him. Considering that Calgary has other rising costs to consider (aka keeping Matthew Tkachuk), the idea of signing a big budget goalie like Bobrovsky may not be on the Flames’ agenda.
However, stranger things have happened in the world of professional sports. Knowing the bold and skillful styling of Treliving, it may not be too farfetched to expect a move as shocking and masterful as landing Bobrovsky and keeping Tkachuk.
The coming offseason is shaping up to be an eventful one. It will be interesting to see what the Flames GM has up his sleeve. Whatever the moves will be, finding a reliable goaltender should be a top item on the Calgary to-do list.