PITTSBURGH -- One of Scott Howson’s priorities heading into this offseason was to upgrade the goaltending position, and the Blue Jackets GM believes he has made a step in that direction today.
Columbus acquired goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon, mere hours before the start of the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. The 23-year-old previously spent his NHL career as the No. 2 goaltender for the Flyers, and this past season, played 26 games behind free-agent signee Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Blue Jackets saw a young goaltender with loads of talent, and opted to move on it. And with the market for goaltenders becoming thin over the past week, Howson knew the time was right to capitalize on the opportunity.
“The market is drying up a bit, in terms of those (goalies) available for trade,” Howson said. “We’ve had our eye on Sergei for a while, so it was just time to step up and make the move.
“We did a lot of work on the goaltender market. (Goaltending coach Ian Clark) is convinced that this guy has a chance to be a No. 1 goalie. We checked out his character, how hard he works and how competitive he is.”
After seeing goaltenders like Anders Lindback get traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and potential free agents such as Josh Harding re-sign with their clubs, Howson knew that time was of the essence to check a significant item off his shopping list.
He and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had been discussing a deal for Bobrovsky for about two weeks, Howson said. They decided that a deal based on draft pick compensation was best for both parties, then agreed to a deal on Friday morning.
“It was a top priority to get (a goalie) either through trade or free agency,” Howson said. “It became a very high priority for us.”
Bobrovsky was not drafted by the Flyers, but signed to an entry-level contract in 2006 after he played for Metallurg in Russia. He turned a lot of heads during his rookie season in Philadelphia, posting 28 wins in 54 appearances, while posting a 2.59 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
With the arrival of Bryzgalov this season, playing time dipped for Bobrovsky, but he was still solid when given a chance in net. He’s regarded as a creative and athletic goaltender, who has the ability to make tough saves look easy and make saves he shouldn’t be able to.