NHL Rumors: Columbus Blue Jackets Cannot Afford to Lose Sergei Bobrovsky

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2013

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 5: Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets makes a save against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on April 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets have experienced a massive change in their franchise over the past season, quickly going from the NHL's worst team to one fighting for a playoff berth. Much of that is due to goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, and they need him back in order to ensure future success.

In the days surrounding Sunday's NHL draft, the Blue Jackets have been in close talks with Bobrovsky to work out a new deal and both sides are close, according to Brian Stubits of CBS Sports. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun also chimed in on Twitter.

Before that, it wasn't looking so certain as Bobrovsky was being shopped around before the sides started working things out, per Darren Dreger of TSN. 

The Bobrovsky saga has been one of the most interesting offseason storylines to follow, as the story seems to change with every development. He was even rumored to be on the verge of heading back to the KHL, per Stubits last week

Bobrovsky has come into his own as a NHL goaltender, emerging as one of the league's top goalies in the lockout-shortened season. 

The 24-year-old's breakout 2012-13 season ended in winning the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's most valuable goaltender. He went 21-11-6 on the season with a .932 save percentage.

What's more, the Russian goalie averaged giving up just 2.00 goals per game last season. That was good for fifth in the league.

To see just how valuable Bobrovsky is to this team, take a look at the Blue Jackets' goals against average for the past four seasons compared to Bobrovsky's in 2012-13.

If that doesn't prove his value, I don't know what would.

The Blue Jackets have already begun putting together a solid set of skaters, but what really holds a team together while it emerges is a top-notch goalie. It's an absolute must to have a premier goal-stopper in order to make playoff runs.

Columbus is lucky enough to be able to say that it has just that, but it'll take a big payday in order to keep him around.

Sure, Bobrovsky had his struggles while a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, but he was also just coming into his own at the time. Now, he's 24 years old and can be relied on to produce on a year-by-year basis. 

Vezina Trophies don't just come around for nothing. Bobrovsky's 2012-13 season proved he's a future star at the position, and the Blue Jackets could ill-afford to lose him.