Jarmo Kekalainen has a decision at hand with Sergei Bobrovsky.
But even he admits it’s something of a no-brainer.
The Columbus GM all but confirmed signing the Vezina-nominated goalie was his No. 1 priority this offseason, calling Bobrovsky “the MVP of our team” while suggesting a deal would be done shortly.
“It’s going to take its course, and it’s going to take its time,” Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch. “Some [deals] are quicker than others. We’ll have to stay more patient with some than others. I don’t anticipate any problems.
“It’s going to be a negotiation. His agent, his representatives are professionals. They have their thought process and we have ours. I’m sure we’re going to reach a result here in the near future.”
On Wednesday, Bobrovsky was nominated for the Vezina Trophy — along with New York’s Henrik Lundqvist and San Jose’s Antti Niemi — which should give him even more negotiating power than he had previously.
And he had plenty to begin with.
Bobrovsky was a revelation in his first season with the Jackets, posting a 21-11-6 record with a 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage. He was given a slew of monthly and weekly star awards and backstopped Columbus through its late-season push for a playoff spot, which went down to the final game of the regular season.
So, how much will the Russian ‘tender make on his new deal?
It’s a good question. A pending RFA, the 24-year-old Bobrovsky is in the final year of a deal that paid $1.75 million annually.
One could look at the deal Jaroslav Halak got in St. Louis as a possible comparable — in 2010, Halak (then a 25-year-old RFA) signed a four-year, $15 million deal with the Blues.
Their situations are somewhat similar, in that both would cash in on a season of excellence.
Halak got his deal on the heels of a stellar 2009-10 campaign, when he went 26-13-5 with a .924 save percentage and 2.40 GAA during the regular season, then starred in the postseason by carrying the underdog Canadiens all the way to the Eastern Conference finals.