Rumblings: Talks between Bobrovsky, Jackets could be dramatic

Hopefully for the sake of the Columbus Blue Jackets, their contract negotiation with Sergei Bobrovsky isn’t as dramatic or contentious as the Ryan Johansen talks, but it certainly has the potential to be.

Columbus' star netminder will be a restricted free agent after the season. Re-signing him two years ago wasn’t easy. And you can expect there will again be serious overtures from his native country in Russia to go play in the KHL.

The Jackets made an offer during training camp that was rejected and the two sides haven’t spoken since. Bobrovsky is represented by agent Paul Theofanous.

"We love Bob, we want to obviously keep him," Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "We made a fair offer in our opinion and it didn’t go anywhere. We’ll keep after it. He’s an incredibly hard-working player and he’s a leader that way and such a good example. We absolutely want to keep a guy like that and for long-term."

Bobrovsky is earning $6.25 million this season, although his cap hit is $5.625 million.

He's a restricted free agent for one more year and then has UFA eligibility starting in July 2016.

Keep an eye on this one ...


The Blue Jackets sat 29th in the NHL's overall standings before Tuesday's games, in large part because of a ridiculous list of early-season injuries -- although Kekalainen doesn’t want that to be an excuse.

"We got to play better, first of all, injuries or not," the Jackets GM said Tuesday. "It's obviously been a tough learning experience. I think we’ll be stronger because of it. We went through a similar stretch last year at the beginning of the year, without the same amount of injuries, and we came on strong after that experience. That’s the way we have to look at it this time, too.

"Sometimes you wish the lessons weren’t quite as hard as what we’re going through now. But in my years in hockey, I’ve seen it before. It usually makes you stronger if you live and learn from it."

Helping Columbus is the fact the Jackets play in the weakest division in the league. Aside from the juggernaut Pittsburgh Penguins and an improving New York Islanders team, the Metropolitan isn’t exactly full of clubs lighting it up so far this season. Heck, the Carolina Hurricanes have had two good weeks of hockey and are right back in the thick of it after not winning a game in October.

What Kekalainen doesn’t accept at all is any talk that the team should just embrace a season gone wrong given what’s available at the top of the draft next June in terms of franchise players.

"No, we’re not even thinking about that," Kekalainen said. "We’ll get back on our feet here and we’ll get going. We played some real good hockey at the end of last year. We have the same team except we think we’re a little bit better than last year.

"We just got to get going here."