The Anaheim Ducks over the weekend came to an agreement with goaltender John Gibson on an eight-year deal worth over $51 million. It was a shocking deal, but it also set the market again after the last few goalie deals left organizations with foul tastes in their mouths.
Which brings us, again, back to Sergei Bobrovsky; if you're not going to look at every goalie deal and try to compare them to the Columbus Blue Jackets netminder, you're just selling yourself short.
Bobrovsky has been one of the best goalies in the world the past five years. Gibson has had two excellent seasons. Bobrovsky has the hardware, Gibson does not. Neither have much success in the playoffs and goes to show you that when you want to invest, there is no issue with making one. Gibson's deal is going to start when he is 26, and any possible deal for Bobrovsky is going to start when he is 31 years old.
There's the beginning of the differences between Bobrovsky and Gibson. It is evident that if you're in the NHL right now, you want term. Your contract is guaranteed, and in a sport where the puck is continuously being fired at you, you need financial protection.
Bobrovsky ($7.425 million annually) is already making more than Gibson, and was getting paid off of his first Vezina-winning season. Bobrovsky went on to win a second Vezina, and he has cemented himself as one of the best in the NHL.
This is where it gets tricky, and you might have trouble talking Bobrovsky and his camp down: the age curve for goalies isn't as sharp as other players. You can play later in your career, but not by much.
As Jeff Veillette points out on The Faceoff Circle, the aging curve for goalies doesn't necessarily hit until the mid-30s. If you consider Bobrovsky "special" on the level of a Roberto Luongo or Henrik Lundqvist, then you could bank on him playing for a while into his 30s. Those two guys are first-ballot Hall-of-Famers, though, and it isn't immediately clear if Bobrovsky will be on that level.
Even just using simple measures like cap percentage, it is going to be tough for Bobrovsky to come in under $8.5 million AAV. He's going to want paid like a top goalie in the league, where Carey Price is the benchmark and Lundqvist was before him (although his deal was signed in 2013), so finding a fair mark is tough.
There are strands of ideas that can link Gibson to Bobrovsky, especially when considering what it might cost to pay an upper-echelon goalie in the game today. Bobrovsky has the awards to point to and declare he needs to be paid more, but finding a reasonable number is easier said than done.
Bringing in a younger model of Bobrovsky sounds lovely, and the Blue Jackets may very well have it with Elvis Merzlikins waiting in the wings. Yet, the uncertainty may put them in enough of a corner they have to bring back one of the franchise's most important players in its history.
What a good problem to have.
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