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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Although Bobrovsky wasn't able to maintain his elite level of play from the season before, he still played more than 60 games for the second straight year and ranked in the top 10 in the league in wins (37), saves (1,835) and shutouts (five). Another lackluster performance in a first-round playoff loss to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Capitals generated the usual grumbling about whether the 29-year-old is a “true” franchise goalie, but Bobrovsky remains one of the top fantasy options between the pipes as long as he can continue to avoid the injuries that plagued him earlier in his career. With a young blue-line corps led by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski on the rise in front of him, another Vezina-quality season in the final year of his current contract could easily be in the cards -- and perhaps, finally, a deep playoff run to quiet the doubters.
Bobrovsky worked hard in the offseason to improve his flexibility and eliminate the groin issues that plagued him in 2015-16, and the result was a spectacular campaign that saw him lead all starting netminders in GAA and save percentage while bringing home his second Vezina Trophy in five seasons. Still only 28 years old, Goalie Bob is the backbone of the Blue Jackets’ ascent to contender status, and while a young and rapidly improving blue line corps deserves plenty of credit for the work they did in front of him, he supplied more than his share of big saves. Unless he has trouble staying healthy once again, there’s no reason to expect any kind of regression from Bobrovsky this year.
A lingering groin issue limited Bobrovsky to just 37 games last year, and even when he was on the ice, he couldn't recapture his Vezina-winning form, posting his worst win total, GAA and save percentage since joining the Blue Jackets four seasons ago. If he can stay healthy, he should easily be able to rebound, especially given the young and talented defense in front of him, but if he breaks down again, the organization has younger options to turn to; if one of them steps in and looks like a long-term solution, it wouldn't be a shock to see Columbus try and get out from under the remainder of Bob’s contract.
Finger and groin injuries earned Bobrovsky a pair of IR stints last year, limiting him to just 49 starts. And for the third consecutive year, his save percentage fell while his GAA rose. Yet Bobrovsky still somehow managed to come away with 30 wins, and had he been healthy the whole way through, Columbus might very well have been a playoff team. Fortunately, the Jackets may need Bobrovsky to carry them less than ever this year, as an upgraded offense should yield plenty of goal support. If Bob can find a way to stay healthy, he should easily achieve a new career best in wins, and he might even see his ratios rebound. Not to his Vezina-winning levels of 2012-13, but a return to the .920s seems quite possible.
Bobrovsky wasn't able to match his Vezina-winning performance of the year before, but he did prove it was no fluke and established himself as one of the NHL's premiere netminders. His 32 wins, 2.38 GAA and .923 save percentage all ranked in the top 10 among goalies who appeared in at least 40 games, and were nearly identical to Henrik Lundqvist's numbers. As young defensemen like Ryan Murray mature in front of him, the improving supporting cast could allow him to add some more playoff wins to his resume and hardware to his trophy case.
What more can be said about Bobrovsky's incredible Vezina-winning campaign? Other netminders have carried their teams with great two month runs (18 of Bobrovsky's 21 wins, and all four of his shutouts, came in March and April) but rarely have they revived an entire franchise the way last season's near-miss playoff push brought the city of Columbus out of its post-Rick Nash doldrums. Now signed to a big new contract, Bobrovsky may have a hard time living up to the myth he created last season but he's still only 24, has a ferocious work ethic and is fully capable of developing into a truly elite goalie behind a deep, young Blue Jackets blue line corps. Don't dismiss him as a flash in the pan.
Bobrovsky's numbers slid in his second NHL season, and the Flyers elected to ship him to Columbus for a handful of draft picks. The young Russian netminder will head into training camp as the presumptive number one for the Blue Jackets ahead of Steve Mason, and, while heading to the worst team in the league would normally not be an advised career move, the Jackets do have a young, skilled crop of blueliners capable of gelling into one of the tighter defensive units in the league after gaining more experience. Of course even if they do, Bobrovsky could have a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 losses on the horizon, so don't expect much in the way of fantasy value in the short term. Goalie Bob can not be counted on for consistent wins, but if he's a starting goalie, he's worth a roster spot in deeper leagues.
Bobrovsky posted a .915 save percentage and 28 wins last year as the Flyers' starter, but now he's slated to backup Ilya Bryzgalov, whom the Flyers inked to a hefty contract this summer. There's also been rumors Philly is looking to shop Bobrovsky. Those rumors have been of the unsubstantiated type, and the possibility of Bobrovsky moving to a new team and sliding into a starter's role is far from a likelihood at this point. Nonetheless, the 22-year-old has shown enough for a team in need of netminding to make a play for him, especially considering his contract is palatable. But as long as he's with the Flyers, his fantasy value is limited.