The Florida Panthers have their new franchise goaltender. After seeing Roberto Luongo retire and trading James Reimer, the team will now bring in Sergei Bobrovsky on a seven-year, $70MM contract. Bobrovsky immediately becomes one of the highest-paid goaltenders in the league, and joins a team in Florida that has made sweeping changes this offseason. GM Dale Tallon had this to say about his new goaltender:
Sergei is an elite starting goaltender who has consistently proven to be one of the best in the NHL. Adding a world class goalie with Sergei’s abilities and experience will give us a solid foundation in net and the confidence to win every night as we look towards this next era of Panthers hockey in South Florida.
The deal also includes a no-movement clause in the first five seasons. Only Carey Price’s $10.5MM cap hit sits higher than this deal for Bobrovsky among goaltenders, meaning he has a lot of pressure on him to perform for the Panthers moving forward. It’s a good thing then that Bobrovsky has been so good over the last nine years, posting at least a .913 save percentage in every season that he was relatively healthy. A two-time Vezina Trophy winner, the 30-year old goaltender finally proved he could perform in the playoffs when he posted a .925 for the Blue Jackets in their two series’ this year.
Still, handing out a deal of this magnitude to a goaltender carries a fair amount of risk. After clearing a ton of cap space during the season, the Panthers are now sitting just about $4.8MM under the ceiling after spending heavily today. If Bobrovsky struggles at all the team won’t be able to afford to bring in much help for him, meaning the Panthers’ hopes will live or die with his performance.