Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What About Bob?


So with Draft day come and gone, a lot of questions about the goaltending situation have been answered. But for all the ones that were answered, even more will be posed.

First off, who is Sergei Bobrovsky and what can he do for us? Well he's a 23 year old 6'2" Russian Goaltender who doesn't speak much english. He came over to the Flyers in 2010 from the KHL and had a pretty solid season, going 23-13-8 with a .915 sv% and 2.59 GAA. He was considered one of the best rookies that season, and some considered him to be a solution to the longstanding goaltending woes in Philadelphia.

The following season, Bryzgalov was brought in and we all remember what happened. Both goalies didn't do very well and Bob was resigned to the backup role for most, but not all of the season. His numbers were poorer across the board, with his sv% dipping below .900 and his GAA topping 3.00. That said, the Flyers were not a stellar defensive team this past year and the injury to Pronger probably had a lot to do with it. That was his second season in the NHL.

Bobrovsky was taken off the case.

So on Friday afternoon, when Scott Howson packaged three draft picks for Bob, many of us sighed and shook our heads. We remembered another goalie getting shelled all year and thinking of him coming into Nationwide Arena and doing the same. But there are reasons to think that won't be the case.

First off, Bob is only 23 and has only had two full seasons in the league under his belt. Many goaltenders have dawdled at first in this league before finding their stride. Craig Anderson, Brian Elliott, Mike Smith, even Carey Price had some long ugly stretches. So yes, there is a chance that he could find his oasis here in Cbus and play to his full potential.

Secondly, Bob is a good technical goaltender. One has to hope that Ian Clark saw something he liked there and that this time Howson did his homework on the guy a little more than he did with Jeff Carter. I've looked around for scouting reports and couldn't find any so I asked the burnside carbine's technical goaltending consultant, who touted Bob's explosive lateral movement and athleticism... whatever that means.

Thirdly, I strongly believe that Goaltending need not be spectacular for the 2012-13 Blue Jackets. Mere competence is all we require. Just know where to stand, how to butterfly without giving up the 5-hole and be able to adjust your game when your weaknesses become exposed. The defensemen are much more important in creating a solid goaltender than things like lateral movement. A good team defense in the style of Phoenix or Nashville could work wonders for a guy like Bob so long as he isn't totally incompetent. And say what you want about the 2012-13 CBJ but they are not weak on the blueline. If a better system can be implemented where the D can direct defenders to the outside for weak shots, clear rebounds and cover the open guys, it could open up a whole new dimension to Bob's game.

I'll even go out on a limb and predict that Bob's GAA will go back south of 3.00 and sv% above .900... although I suppose that doesn't say much.

The angle Howson tried to come up with after  the trade- that the Mason/Bob combo was good enough is something I'm not buying. If Mason could be traded for a song, Howson should sing it. And he probably would too. He's made Mason a lame duck with his offseason comments and it will be near-impossible for Mason to one day become a starter here. So I don't really see the point in keeping him around to do backup duty this next year. If a team gets desperate enough, they should take a chance on the kid. And time will tell if he'll be a throw-in for the much anticipated Nash deal.

So for the amount we gave up in order to get him, Bob could end up being a steal. I'd give the odds of that about 50/50 depending how pick #45 (anthony stolarz) turns out. The other picks in the trade just seemed to be toss-ins. At the end of the day, we got a proven NHLer who is more likely than Mason to put together a decent season for three picks that have a low chance of being valuable in the long run. I'd call it a short-term win.

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