Point/Counterpoint is a new series which argues both sides of a topic relevant to the Philadelphia Flyers. According to Sam Carchidi, Paul Holmgren was scouting the Detroit vs. Columbus game last night. This week, Nina G and Marcello De Feo debate whether or not the Flyers should consider trading Sergei Bobrovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
By Nina G
I believe it is time for the Flyers to begin thinking about trading Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky is a talented young goalie with a promising future as a starter in this league, but his future won’t be with the Flyers. With Ilya Bryzgalov signed to be the starter for nine seasons Bobrovsky is relegated to the backup role where he will be lucky if he starts more than 20 games. It is a complete waste for someone who has the talent to be so much more in this league.
More importantly to the Flyers, is that they are wasting cap space with him in the backup role. The Flyers currently have no cap space according to Cap Geek which will be problematic if they have more two forwards or two defenseman go down with injury at the same time. They will not be able to afford a call up from the Phantoms and would be unable to dress a full roster.
Trading Bobrovsky would be the easiest solution to their current cap problem. With a cap hit of $1,750,000, Bobrovsky is the most expensive backup in the league. It makes little sense to allocate that much cap space to the position when backups can be had for less than $1M. Bobrovsky is also one player they can afford to lose and could actually receive interest around the league.
There are several teams that could potentially have interest in Bobrovsky, one of them being the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus is under the gun to make the playoffs this year, but goaltending is one of their major weaknesses. Steve Mason has been unable to recapture his rookie season success. Mark Dekanich, the goalie they brought in as their insurance policy to Mason, has been injured and has no NHL experience to boot. They seriously need to think about upgrading in goal if they want to have a shot to make a run at the playoffs this season, but they also cannot afford to bring in a pricey starter should one become available. A cheaper starter like Bobrovsky could be ideal for them.
A team in Columbus’ position might be pressured into paying a premium price for a goalie. This summer we saw what people believed to a potential lottery team in Colorado give up a first and a second round pick for Semyon Varlamov, a goalie who didn’t have much more NHL experience than Bobrovsky. I don’t expect Columbus to part with their first if they feel they will be a lottery team, but they will be pressured to do something if they feel they still have a shot at the playoffs.
A return like that is impossible to turn down, but I think even a second round pick could make a Bobrovsky trade worth it because they would be easing their cap burden while gaining a future asset when they desperately need to keep adding talent to the farm.
By Marcello De Feo
Goaltending depth is never a bad thing, especially when you have two goalies who could be considered legitimate starters. As I mentioned before, some of the league’s top teams, such as Boston, Vancouver, Nashville, and Buffalo, have elite starters and perfectly capable backups. This is a great insurance policy.
Trading Bobrovsky is an unneeded risk at this point that could lead to more problems down the road.
Naturally, you can’t always plan ahead for every “What if?” scenario but goaltending depth is just as vital as scoring or defensive depth. At this point, there’s no telling what the future holds and, unless the Flyers are forced into a scenario where they must trade Bobrovsky, there’s no reason to do so.
Ilya Bryzgalov could get injured and miss significant time or, he could simply fall apart. Many people believe that Bryz is not a playoff goalie. What happens if any of these possibilities becomes a reality? As thing currently stand, the unproven Jason Bacashihua could very well end up starting games for the Flyers.
If the Flyers do not feel that ‘Cash could handle the load — and there’s no reason to believe he could — the team would have to make another move. The Flyers could trade for a solid backup, shed a contract to sign a free agent like Marty Turco, or clear out cap space and hope that Michael Leighton makes it through recall waivers. Any of these options would be a risky proposition that would result in the team unnecessarily losing additional assets just to get back to the stable situation that currently exists.
In the meantime, cap space is still a legitimate issue for the Flyers but the team could just as easily waive Jody Shelley or Matt Walker to give the team more flexibility under the cap.
During the 2011 playoffs, Peter Laviolette mishandled the goalies and created a great deal of fabricated chaos. As a rookie under quite the bright spotlight, Bobrovsky’s confidence withered away and he played poorly. The way Lavy handled the goalies only made the situation worse. If he put more faith in Bob and the team did a better job at playing team defense in front of him, this might all be moot. Ed Snider might not have vowed to find an elite netminder and Bob could very well be the starter right now.
Bobrovsky looked solid in the preseason and, through two regular season starts, he has a 2.00 GAA and a .918 SV%. Albeit a small sample size, he’s boasting better numbers than Carey Price, Roberto Luongo, Jaroslav Halak, Martin Brodeur, Cam Ward, James Riemer, Jonas Hiller and — you guessed it — Philly’s own Ilya Bryzgalov. It is still early in the season but Bob has given no indication that he will slow down either. If you remove salaries from the equation, there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t earn a 1B status to Bryzgalov’s 1A, at a minimum.
Having two starting goalies creates competition and forces one goalie to outplay the other. If the Flyers traded Bob, then Bryzgalov also loses that extrinsic motivation to stay atop his game. It’s an unfortunate side effect.
Obviously, any player can be had for the right price and Columbus may very well be holding the lottery ticket for the highly touted Nail Yakupov at the moment. Considering the price that Colorado paid for Semyon Varlamov (a 1st round pick and a conditional 2nd round pick), Philadelphia might want similar compensation for Bobrovsky, in hopes of landing Yakupov. The problem is, Bob would instantly make Columbus a better team, which could push the Blue Jackets up the standings and out of the running for Yakupov.