Flyers Sign Highly Touted Prospect
The Philadelphia Flyers have signed 21-year old, Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a three-year contract with a cap-hit of $1.75-million per season.
Despite several NHL and KHL teams being interested in Bobrovsky, he is the ninth Flyers goalie prospect now in their system and quickly goes to the top spot over Joacim Eriksson, simply because he is now property of the Philadelphia Flyers.
So who is this guy, and why am I writing about him? He’s good.
Let’s break down some nuts and bolts first.
Bobrosvky has played in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for the past two seasons from ages 19-21 and stands at 6’2 192-pounds. In 2008-09, his team went 7-20 and Bobrovsky compiled a .927 save percentage and 2.49 goals against average. This season his team went 9-22 and he finished with a 2.72 goals against average and a save percentage of .919.
Consider this when looking at Bobrovsky’s numbers; his Metallurg Novokuznetsk team finished 24th out of 24 teams in the KHL. The bigger European ice surface means more offense is produced, and when the team in front of you is no good, you’re often hung out to dry. You stick Bobrovsky in the pipes in a smaller ice surface, with a more talented team; imagine what happens to those numbers.
During the 2007-08 season and 2008-09 season, Bobrovsky beat out countryman Semyon Varlamov on several occasions as the number one starter for International tournaments, including the 2008 U-20 World Junior Championships.
Bobrovsky recently finished up a mini National tournament in Italy; it was his first Russian National team debut. Here’s what a Team Russian assistant coach had to say about Bobrovsky being named to the National team:
“Sergei Bobrovsky is an Olympic candidate for Sochi 2014.”
One talent evaluator described Bobrovsky as “having the same skill set as Semyon Varlamov of Washington”
Need a Talent Analysis? OK, here’s what our friends at Hockey’s Future had to say about Sergei Bobrovsky:
Bobrovsky is a hybrid goalie who prefers more of a butterfly down lower style than stand-up. The young netminder has above average reaction time and a slightly above average glove side. He has good lateral quickness in the crease, Bobrovsky has impressive quickness and he needs it since he does not take up much of a net. The young goalie also tends to skate out far to challenge opponents, though he didn’t do this as much outside of Russian hockey when competing internationally. An average puck-handler, Bobrovsky rarely plays the puck outside the crease and tends to make safer and more conservative decisions with it. Another area that the young netminder does need to work on is his rebounding, as he tends to give up a lot of them and some dangerously close in front of him. It is impressive that he is capable of blocking some very difficult first shots, but he does himself and his team a disservice by leaving the rebound and allowing the opposing team second and third chances at the puck. Still, his competitiveness and ability to stop the first shot have been key to his success thus far in his career and he can learn proper rebound control if given more coaching opportunities. Maturity wise, the young ‘88 born netminder is probably one of the most mature young netminders currently playing in Russia. He took on a lot of responsibility in 2008 and even though handled it very well, especially when backstopping Russia to the bronze medal at the U20 World Junior Championships. His ability to remain composed in difficult situations and remain competitive has been key to his success.
Since the publication of that scouting report, Bobrovsky’s rebound control has increased greatly. The team he was playing on in the KHL didn’t even have a goalie coach, so for the last season Bobrovsky has been going to Finland any chance he gets to get coached individually, something Varlamov also did.
So how can someone who is comparable, and possibly better than, Semyon Varlamov still be undrafted? Easy; transfer agreement.
He was 2008 draft eligible at the age of 18, but there was caution that he would not play in the NHL for atleast a couple years. So what happens? He signed a contract in the lovely KHL where he is stuck until the contract expires – and it just did, after this season he became a highly touted free agent. He is a first-to-second round talent goalie, and you can tell by the big-time contract hit for a 21-year old rookie. To compare, 2007 second overall draft pick, James van Riemsdyk is collecting a cap hit of just over $1.6-million.
I came across this on Broad Street Hockey and thought it was very interesting: ‘Capitals-centric blog: Russian Machine Never Breaks: Though it has largely flown under the radar in America, the impact of this deal could be huge. We consider it a coup for the Flyers and it could impact the Capitals/Flyers rivalry in the Eastern Conference for many years to come… we believe that Bobrovsky has a chance to become the #1 goaltender in Philadelphia sooner rather than later.’
And that thought seems to be what I get from most of the scouts that I talk to or people who are close to the situation.
In looking forward, I think the Flyers will still try to acquire a more proven number goaltender, but if I were a betting man, I would without a doubt tell you that Bobrosvky will be the starting goaltender for the Phantoms next season, from there, anything can happen. This kid has the upside, skill set and maturity level to compete for a role on the Philadelphia Flyers during this summer’s training camp.
NOTES: Thanks to @TheGoalieGuild, @EuroFlyers – Teemu H, for the some of the insight and inside. Flyers also signed goalie Brian Stewart from Northern Michigan University and forward Andrew Rowe from Michigan State University. Also, they’re rumbling the Flyers have offered contracts to Mario Kempe and Simon Bertilsson.