Columbus Blue Jackets: Breaking Down the Team's Goaltending
Heading into the offseason, it was clear that the Columbus Blue Jackets were in need of an upgrade at the goaltending position.
With top names like Boston's Tuukka Rask, Buffalo's Jhonas Enroth, and Vancouver's Cory Schneider among the available free-agent goaltenders this summer, Columbus had a golden opportunity to solidify their play in goal.
However, the Jackets surprised a lot of people when they dealt for Philadelphia Flyers' backup Sergei Bobrovsky before the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Bobrovsky struggled last season behind Ilya Bryzgalov and there is a lot of question as to whether or not he can handle the starting role in Columbus.
With "Bob" and Mason as the team's goaltenders, as well as youngster Allen York, the Jackets still find themselves in the bottom of the goaltending power rankings.
The front office may have realized that as well as there is still some talk that the team may not be done dealing before training camp, but more on that later.
So let's take a look at what the Jackets have to offer next season in net, as well as who could still be on their way to Columbus.
Jackets fans got a chance to see what the team's farm system had to offer last year when they got a glimpse of youngster Allen York.
The 23-year-old played 11 games last season (starting five of them), because of injuries to Curtis Sanford and Mark Dekanich.
York would not get his first start until March, when he started four games in a row after the season was all but over.
The Alberta, Canada native impressed, winning three of those four games and allowing only five goals on 111 shots.
As impressive as York looked in those games, he will most likely start the season in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons.
However, if Steve Mason continues his struggles with consistency, fans may get another chance to see York in a Jackets' uniform backing up Sergei Bobrovsky.
There has been no Blue Jacket player in the past three years that has been more of a headache than goaltender Steve Mason.
After winning the Calder Trophy in 2009, Mason has been unable to return to his winning ways.
At the end of the 2010-2011 season, it was believed that the 24-year-old's time as the team's No. 1 goaltender was over and the Jackets would look for a replacement.
However, instead of signing a goaltender, the Jackets upgraded their defense and scoring by acquiring defenseman James Wisniewski and center Jeff Carter.
Columbus's front office hoped that by improving the play in front of him, Mason would return to his rookie form.
And yet, Mason once again struggled with consistency and registered his worst season in his short four-year career.
Mason went 16-26-3 and compiled a unimpressive goals against average of 3.39, with a save percentage of .894.
Mason will not be receiving a fourth chance as the team went out and acquired Bobrovsky, moving Mason to the bench.
If the Ontario, Canada native cannot turn things around this season backing up Bob, he will most likely be demoted to the AHL.
Instead of acquiring a top veteran during the offseason this summer, the Jackets went out and dealt for yet another talented youngster with Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky comes over from the Philadelphia Flyers, where the goaltending position is a tad more scrutinized than on other teams. They have yet to have a stable goaltender since Ron Hextall.
The Russian netminder impressed in his rookie season, winning 28 games, but could not get it done in the playoffs. This forced the Flyers to sign top free agent Ilya Bryzgalov to a massive nine-year contract last offseason.
Backing up Bryzgalov during the last year, "Bob's" numbers declined as he finished the season with a 14-10-2 record and a goals-against average of just over three goals a game.
Bobrovsky will get an opportunity for a fresh start in a city that is less in the spotlight than Philadelphia, which could cause an improvement in the youngster's play.
If that is the case, then the Jackets got themselves a steal as they acquired Bobrovsky at such a cheap price.
However, there are those who doubt Bobrovsky is a legitimate No. 1 goaltender and he still has a lot to prove as he hopes to show that he is not a one-hit wonder like Mason.
Jackets' general manager Scott Howson believes that both Bobrovsky and Mason can be a impressive one-two punch for Columbus in net going into next season.
But, if his acquisition does not go according to plan, he will most likely be out of a job.
Are the Jackets Done Shopping?
The Blue Jackets may be starting to realize that the combination of Sergei Bobrovsky and Steve Mason may not get it done for the team in 2012-2013.
Columbus is believed to still be in the market for a goaltender and it was reported last week that a former first-round pick, Jonathan Bernier, requested a trade from the Los Angeles Kings for the second time in five months.
The Jackets have inquired about the availability of Bernier and could possibly make an offer if the Kings are willing to deal him.
Bernier is one of the most talented backups in the NHL and because of the stellar play of starter Jonathan Quick, Bernier unfortunately has not had an opportunity to be the Kings' No. 1 starter.
If the 23-year-old is as talented as people say he is, the Jackets would be stupid not to make an offer for what could be a franchise goaltender.
During his time in the AHL, Bernier put together better numbers than other talented youngsters such as Cory Schneider, Jhonas Enroth, and Tuukka Rask. In 115 games, the Canadian netminder compiled 2.19 goals against average and save percentage of .927.
In his short NHL career, Bernier has compiled a 20-17-5 record with a 2.50 goals against average.
Now, those numbers are not jaw-dropping, but Bernier has never been given a chance to shine as a team's No. 1 starter.
If Columbus is willing to possibly deal the Kings' 2013 draft pick they received for Jeff Carter back to Los Angeles, as well as a few other pieces, the Jackets could solidify their goaltending position for the foreseeable future
The big question, however, is whether or not the Kings are willing to deal him. They may not want to deal away a consistent backup that could fill in if Quick were to go down with an injury.
If Los Angeles decides to deal him, expect a high asking price. Regardless, acquiring a talent like Bernier would be a huge upgrade for the Jackets.
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