Virtually per week faraway from the beginning of NHL free company, the mud is starting to choose a few of the larger contracts of the day. Of all of the gamers to signal new offers on July 1, just one contract (Artemi Panarin’s take care of the New York Rangers) was extra expensive total or per yr than the one the Florida Panthers gave goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
There was a substantial amount of criticism aimed on the Panthers for providing a seven-year, $70-million contract to a goaltender who shall be 31 earlier than the beginning of the common season. However the larger image reveals that whereas the contract is certainly a big gamble, it’s the right gamble for Florida to take at this juncture.
Panthers’ Porous Goaltending
The Panthers completed the 2018-19 season 12 factors exterior of a playoff spot, however it wasn’t due to their offense. They had been ninth within the league with Three.1 targets per recreation all through the common season, they usually had 5 gamers (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, and Keith Yandle) with 60 factors or extra.
Nearly as good as their offense was, their goaltending was equally poor. They had been fourth within the league, trailing solely the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Philadelphia Flyers in targets towards, permitting 273 on the season. Regardless of turning to 4 totally different goalies, they might by no means discover a resolution to what ailed them most.
Michael Hutchinson (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers) Sam Montembeault (Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports activities) James Reimer (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. (AP Picture/Joel Auerbach, File)Legendary goaltender Roberto Luongo, who lately introduced his retirement, struggled to remain wholesome and posted a profession low in save proportion (SV%, .899) and a goals-against common (GAA) that was the second-worst mark in his profession (Three.12).
Florida’s main backup plan, James Reimer, was a complete catastrophe for the primary time in his profession, as he went 13-12-5 and matched his lowest ever SV% (.900). The Panthers checked out two different choices briefly: Michael Hutchinson, whom they finally traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, received 4 begins and posted terrible numbers (.839 SV%, Four.17 GAA). In the meantime, Sam Montembeault, who appears prone to be the backup for Bobrovsky, went Four-Three-2 with an .894 SV% and a Three.04 GAA).
Bobrovsky’s Sterling Profession
It’s readily obvious that the Panthers had been desperately in want of an answer in web, and there are few higher choices than Bobrovsky. He’s the one energetic goaltender to win the Vezina Trophy twice, most lately in 2017.
Two-time Vezina successful goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is the perfect resolution the Panthers may probably discover to handle their goaltending woes. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports activities)
In his profession, the Russian netminder has posted unimaginable numbers, with a .919 SV% and a 2.46 GAA in 9 seasons. That places him fifth and ninth, respectively, amongst energetic goaltenders. At his greatest, although, nobody can strategy him In his 2016-17 Vezina marketing campaign, he led the league in SV% (.931), GAA (2.06), targets saved above common (33.45), adjusted targets towards common (2.36), and goalie level shares (14.9).
Regardless of some struggles this previous season, he nonetheless led the league in shutouts, with 9. And he additional put to mattress the longstanding questions on whether or not he was a playoff performer. He went 6-Four-Zero, with a .925 SV% and a 2.41 GAA, serving to the Columbus Blue Jackets sweep the potent Tampa Bay Lightning and make the second spherical for the primary time in franchise historical past.
The hyperlinks between the Panthers and Bobrovsky have been rumored for months, courting again to a minimum of the commerce deadline. The match made an excessive amount of sense: Bobrovsky reportedly favored the thought of residing within the Miami space, and the Panthers desperately wanted a goaltender. The worth tag was excessive, however the match was too good to move up. Particularly after Florida made its different huge acquisition of the offseason.
The Quenneville Issue
Shortly after the tip of the common season, the Panthers introduced that they’d employed probably the most popular free agent of all, head coach Joel Quenneville. One in every of his focuses every time he arrives in a brand new location is figuring out who his goaltender goes to be.
For the Panthers, the reply was Bobrovsky, pretty much as good a goaltender as you might be prone to get with out drafting and growing one. That was clearly a solution that appealed to Quenneville, as he dedicated to teaching in Florida for the foreseeable future.
Sure, a seven-year, $70-million contract for a 30-year-old goaltender is a big threat. However for a goaltender like Bobrovsky, and a group just like the Panthers, it’s the proper threat to take. If guaranteeing the acquisition was a part of the method of touchdown Quenneville, then it makes much more sense.
The ultimate few seasons of this contract could also be disagreeable. But when that’s the price of returning the Panthers to playoff and Stanley Cup competition, nobody will thoughts. At this juncture, this was the right gamble for the Panthers.