Blue Jackets: No progress in contract talks with Bobrovsky

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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It has been about a month since the Blue Jackets’ season ended and two months since contract talks between the club and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky started, but the sides are no closer to reaching a deal.

“We’ve talked. We’ve exchanged ideas,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said this week. “But we haven’t made any progress, really. It’s been pretty quiet for a while now.”

Bobrovsky, 24, can become a restricted free agent on July 5, and he’s due a big raise from the roughly $1.7 million a season he made in his entry-level deal, including salary and bonuses.

After going 21-11-6 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .932 save percentage this season, Bobrovsky is considered a favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, given to the league’s top goaltender. He was announced as one of three finalists for the trophy, which will be awarded next month during the Stanley Cup Finals.

Bobrovsky has deferred contract questions to his agent, Paul Theofanous, who has declined numerous requests for an interview.

The Blue Jackets will extend a qualifying offer to Bobrovsky by the end of June. Even though he is certain to reject the offer, which will be 100 percent of his current salary, it allows the Jackets to maintain his rights.

At that point, Bobrovsky would have the right to sign an offer sheet with any NHL club, and the Blue Jackets would have seven days to match the offer (accept the terms) or let him leave while getting compensation in the form of draft picks.

Offer sheets used to be extremely rare but have become more common in recent years. Philadelphia tried to poach Nashville defenseman Shea Weber last summer, but the Predators matched.

“That’s something we can’t control,” Kekalainen said. “It’s obvious what we’re going to do if it goes that far. We have great ownership; committed ownership. We would match any offer there might be, but I’m optimistic we won’t get to that point.”

The Blue Jackets also are continuing talks with center Artem Anisimov, who also can become a restricted free agent.

aportzline@dispatch.com

@Aportzline

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