Columbus Blue Jackets starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has won the 2013 Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL this season:
While the expectations for Bobrovsky were not very high after being traded to the Blue Jackets from the Philadelphia Flyers on June 22, 2012, the 24-year-old netminder became the unquestioned starter in Columbus after winning the job from Steve Mason early in the season.
Not only did Bobrovsky amass 21 wins in 38 games, his 2.00 goals against average and .932 save percentage made him the best statistical goalie in the NHL. As the voters decided, Bob was more than deserving of the Vezina after such a stellar breakout season.
Bobrovsky finished first with 110 points. Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers (55 points) finished second, and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks (46 points) finished third.
It goes beyond the numbers, though, as Bobrovsky became a steadying force between the pipes for a young Blue Jackets team. With six overtime losses and four shutouts, the Columbus netminder was responsible for breaking up losing streaks and helping the team win games they had no business contending in.
The Blue Jackets have some very talented forwards and a solid defensive unit, but it was the outstanding play of Bobrovsky that gave Columbus the chance to make the postseason.
The lockout-shortened season limited how much damage Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets could do, but he helped bring his team to ninth place in the Western Conference and just a few points out of the playoffs.
If the Blue Jackets can utilize free agency and grab a few more offensive players that can take some of the pressure off Bobrovsky and the Columbus defensive units, this is a team that could easily sneak into the postseason.
With a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie continuing to prove he is elite, the Blue Jackets should be a serious contender in the Western Conference in 2013-14 and beyond.