Should the Panthers Chase Bobrovksy?


A few days ago, George Richards of The Athletic reported that Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is the Panther’s #1 target to take over the mantle as the #1 goalie in Sunrise. If you haven’t read the article about it, you can find it behind a paywall here. Naturally, this has set off a bunch of speculation among both Panthers’ and Blue Jackets’ fans, and last night’s suspension by Jackets head coach John Tortorella has only fueled the fire that Bobrovsky’s days in Columbus are numbered. The issues between the two have been well-known for quite a while. Earlier in the year, there was some hope that the Blue Jackets would be able to convince the pending UFA to re-sign with the Jackets, but those hopes are gone and his departure is now a matter of when, not if.

Bobrovsky is in the middle of a down here by his standards with a .906 sv% and a 22.87 GAA through 32 games. On a xG of 83.63, he has given up 85 goals. Again, not his best year. However, even with those numbers, he has been much better then either Roberto Luongo or James Reimer this season.

But is Bobrovsky the right guy for the Panthers to pursue and if they should, is it better to trade for him now or wait until July 1st when he is a UFA?

Trade for Him Now and Save the Season

It is well-known that the Panthers have been crippled by poor goaltending this year. Trading for Bobrovsky would shore up the biggest weakness the Panthers have. However, this season is pretty much lost already. They need another miracle run to get back in the playoff discussion and let’s be honest, does anyone see that happening after they blew another 3rd period lead last night? This year feels to be beyond saving.

Here is another problem. The Blue Jackets currently sit 3rd in the Metropolitan Division with 53 points and will very likely make the playoffs. They aren’t sellers right now. So wake up from the dream of getting Bobrovsky for pennies on the dollar like the Luongo and Hoffman trades. Dale Tallon would have to pay full freight for Bobrovsky. While goalies don’t have the trade value they used to have, a goalie of Bobrovksy’s caliber will cost something the Panthers shouldn’t be giving up in a blown season. But with Bob Boughner and Dale Tallon likely trying to save their jobs over the next few months, anything is possible. The only real benefit is getting a few months to work out an extension, but it wouldn’t make sense for the Russian goalie to sign an extension just 5.5 months from free agency.

Sign Him as a UFA

Here is the most likely way Bobrovsky ends up in a Panthers jersey. It is almost certain that he will be a UFA this summer. From all accounts, he will be looking for a 6-7 year contract that pays him around $9 million AAV. Maybe the lack of a state tax in Florida allows the Panthers to get Bobrovsky for a slightly lower number, but I wouldn’t count on it. Like I discussed when the Panarin to Florida rumors started, south Florida has a strong Russian presence, it’s why Sergei Fedorov wanted to be traded to the Panthers in 1998. I’m sure that presence will be a nice boost to the Panthers chances. They will have roughly 16 million of cap space to spend this off-season so if ownership wants, they have the space to win a bidding war for Bobrovsky’s services.

While Bobrovsky’s performance this season hasn’t been up to his standards, I would expect the discord between him and Tortorella has a lot to do with it. I’m sure the Panthers would be able to get 3-5 great years out of Bobrovsky before age starts to catch up to him. The window to win is right now, so if Bobrovsky can get the Panthers a few long playoff runs before his game falls off and his cap hit becomes an anchor, it’s worth it. The dream of a 10 year cup window is pretty much gone anyway so mortgaging the future really isn’t that big of a deal.

Go in Another Direction

The third option is to look elsewhere. Bobrovsky will be 31 when the 2019-2020 season begins. That means his new contract will likely expire when he is 37-38 years old. While plenty of goalies manage to maintain a high level of play well into their late 30s. Is that really a gamble the Panthers want to take? Below are 10 other goalies who signed contracts at age 28 or later. How many of them would you like to have on the Panthers? Then consider that Bobrovsky wants to be paid more than any of them except Carey Price.

Not really a list that inspires confidence. It could easily be argued that the Panthers are better off looking to trade for a goalie in the 23-24 range who is ready to be a starter but is blocked by an established starter somewhere else. It happens all the time. Bobrovsky himself only ended up with the Blue Jackets because he was blocked by the recently signed Ilya Bryzgalov. The Jackets gave up a 2nd round pick and two 4th round picks to acquire Bobrovsky. While Bobrovsky is the much safer option, getting a starting goalie that costs $2-3 million AAV leaves a lot more money on the table to address the still remaining issues on defense. You just have to make sure you get the right one.

So that’s it. Hope you guys enjoyed it. Let me know what you think on Twitter @CF3234.

If you missed it, please check out our podcast. We talked about the recent 1st period woes and the decision by Bob Boughner to bench 3 players for the third period against the Penguins.