The Columbus Blue Jackets chose to be buyers instead of sellers at the NHL trade deadline in late February, and rather than dealing players with expiring contracts, the front office added talent around them and it resulted in a first-ever trip to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While going for it in the present, the Blue Jackets put the future on hold until the offseason, and now, the waiting game begins as Columbus was eliminated from the postseason by the Boston Bruins Monday night and several of their key players, including goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, will enter unrestricted free agency.
“It’s too early to speak about my future,” Bobrovsky told reporters following Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Bruins at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
“We just lost a game, so I think I have to weigh everything, every opportunity. I have to speak with my people to see what they think and make a decision. It’s a big decision. It’s a lifetime decision, and I don’t want to stand here right now and discuss it after we lose the game.”
When asked if he took a moment or two to take in the atmosphere at Nationwide Arena one final time this season before skating off the ice, Bobrovsky talked about the importance of patience in free agency.
“Well, let’s see what’s going to happen. I don’t know,” Bobrovsky said. “There are big words and stuff like that, but we’ll see. I want to rest. I want to settle things down, get them addressed and make the right decision. I don’t want to rush with it.”
Prior to backstopping an historic sweep of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bobrovsky had a 3.38 goals against average and .898 save percentage in his three previous trips to the postseason with the Blue Jackets.
However, in more than 239 minutes of ice time against the Lightning, Bobrovsky turned aside 109 of the 117 shots he faced, good enough for a .932 save percentage.
Against the Bruins, Bobrovsky made 199 saves on 216 shots faced (.921 save percentage/2.66 goals against average).
“For me, it’s tough to separate myself from the team because the whole team had the good success in the postseason,” Bobrovsky said. “We beat a really good team in Tampa, so all of the guys contributed to that success.”
Regardless of where the future takes Bobrovsky, he will carry with him fond memories from the 2018-2019 season, as the Blue Jackets overcame challenges on and off the ice to advance beyond the first round of the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
“It was fun for me,” Bobrovsky said. “It was a great experience. I enjoyed being with this group, with these guys, and I’m really proud of them. I think everybody competed hard. I think everybody gave what they had, and it was fun to be a part of.
“We went through some good times, some tough times. We’ve been together almost seven years, so that’s a long time. It was special.”