Rumors have been running rampant about the Flyers goaltender situation. Names like Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford, even former Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky have been kicked around as names the Flyers could pursue either closer to the trade deadline, or come free agency this summer. With Carter Hart being called up amidst all the injuries that have plagued the Flyers as of late, the rumor mill is churning at an all time high, with speculation of Flyer’s general manager Chuck Fletcher taking a look at who is available in terms of a trusted veteran in crease.
With his pending unrestricted free agent status looming, Bobrovsky has been the main name being thrown around in discussions everywhere, and rightfully so. While his numbers this year don’t speak to his career’s volume of work, Bob has been coming on lately, recently posting a 39 save shutout victory over the New Jersey Devils Sunday night.
Bob is still one of the top goalies in the NHL, and surely will command top dollar if he hits the market this summer. With the Flyers lacking that true veteran stud in net, he could be a top target for the new regime, but there are a few red flags that should steer Fletcher and his club away from the Columbus netminder.
First off, Bob is 30 years old. He still has a few years left where he could be at the top of his game, but keep in mind, goalies that are at 30 or older are always looking for that last big contract, hoping to guarantee term and as much money as they can get their hands on.
Take for instance, Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist re-upped with the New York Rangers when he was 32 years old. He’s now 36, almost 37 years old, and his current deal expires when he turns 38. He’s slated to make 8.5 million dollars every year until the end of the 2020-2021 season. Not every man is Henrik Lundqvist, but it’s hard to justify giving even an elite goaltender that type of money for that long, hoping he can maintain his top-notch play for the duration of his contract.
Another contract similar to what Bob may be seeking in free agency is Pekka Rinne. Rinne is signed until the end of the 2020-2021 season as well, and is slated to make 7 million dollars per year, and 5 million for the last two years of his deal. The Nashville netminder signed his current deal when he was 30 years old, and he will be 38 when the deal potentially expires.
When you think about it, the money isn’t too tough of an obstacle to justify giving Bobrovsky if he continues to perform at such a high level. The biggest obstacle the Flyers are dealing with is time. It’s hard to justify giving a goaltender, even Bob, a deal similar to Lundqvist or Rinne in terms of length, when they have Carter Hart not too far off from being the starter for the team.
Lundqvist, at the age of 32, signed a 7 year deal that would keep him a New York Ranger until he was 38 years old. Rinne, much the same, signed a contract that would keep him a Predator until the age of 38 as well. Even Roberto Luongo essentially signed his “last big deal” with the Florida Panthers to the tune of 12 years, 64 million dollars. Goaltenders at this age are looking for term, security, and the ability to lock up as much money as they can.
If Bob is looking for a similar contract to Lungo, Rinne, or Lundqvist, you can expect him to look somewhere in the realm of 6-8 years, and an average annual salary of anywhere from 8-10 million dollars. Right now, the Flyers are employing five goaltenders for roughly 7.5 million dollars per year. Bobrovsky would out-earn all of those goalies combined, and then some, and rightfully so. He’s leaps and bounds better than Michal Neuvirth, Brian Elliott. He has much more experience than Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, and Carter Hart combined. He would present the unique opportunity of righting the wrong that former general manager, now team president Paul Holmgren, made when he initially dealt the now 2-time Vezina award winning goalie.
However, this isn’t the time to right that wrong, nor is it the time to explore such possibilities.
Now that fans have seen a glimpse of what Carter Hart can do at the professional level, it may not be long until he is a mainstay in the Flyers’ crease. Giving Bobrovsky a contract the likes of 8 years, 8 million dollars would prevent Carter Hart from taking over when he is ready, and that time is coming closer and closer every time he takes the ice. Also, it straps the team for the remainder of that deal. You think riding out Andrew MacDonald’s deal is bad? Just wait and see how bad it’ll be if the Flyers are stuck riding out a deal worth almost twice as much, and almost twice as long.
This isn’t to say for the right term, and salary, that Sergei Bobrovsky wouldn’t be a great fit for the orange and black. However, the Flyers should be looking for a goalie to bridge the gap between now, and when Carter Hart is ready to take over full-time. It won’t take him 8 years to become the starter in Philadelpha, nor will it take half that length. Hart is maybe another 1-2 years away from being the man in Philadelphia, so the Flyers should look to add a goaltender that understands that, and is willing to be the bridge that takes us to Carter Hart.
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports