We've been here before. And before that.
Sergei Bobrovsky hasn't been the easiest Blue Jacket in club history to nail down in contract talks.
He certainly hasn't been the hardest, but it's been a week since Columbus has been allowed to begin extension discussions with the two-time Vezina-winning goaltender, and there hasn't been a peep, other than this tweet from NHL Network's Kevin Weekes on Tuesday:
*Breaking News* Sens permission for Karlsson to have direct talks on an Extension with other teams Situation to watch : Not difficult to conclude that with no negotiations with @BlueJacketsNHL Bobrovsky wont be with CBJ beyond his contact, if not sooner as per Russian Rumblings— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) July 3, 2018
The report may not be in the most articulate of phrasing, but the point stands: Bobrovsky will be a free agent in the summer of 2019, and most GMs would like to have had discussions by this point of a continued future with their star goalie, but those haven't seemed to have happened yet.
Weekes then goes on to predict that Bobrovsky may even be out of Columbus before next season is over (don't you love the source "Russian Rumblings"?). While this seems more of an inference by Weekes, it would make at least some sense based on past more-than-difficult negotiation talks between Bob's agent, Paul Theofanous, and Jarmo Kekalainen.
It's safe to say Bobrosvky is clearly aware of the reliance that his club has on him: He faced 30.7 shots per game this past season, the second-most of his career, and the most in the past three seasons. He's been awarded votes for the Vezina Trophy four times in the past six seasons, and was top five in the league last season in wins. (This last stat points to the fact that the Jackets have never had the most serviceable of backups).
While Bob clearly has a top-tier defense in front of him, the lack of scoring from the club has put a weight on him that deserves, well, one-of-the-best-goaltenders-in-the-world kind of money.
If the Jackets are to hang onto the likes of Panarin (UFA in 2019) and Zach Werenski (RFA in 2019), they may not be able to hit the money mark that Bobrovsky may be aiming for. Looking around at his competitors like Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million per year) and Carey Price ($10.5 million per year), Bob might think a little differently of the expected fruits of his labor than the Jackets do.
For now, fans will need to rely on the continued magic of Jarmo, as well as a successful 2018-2019 campaign, from all the Blue Jackets, not just Bob, to potentially convince him to stay.