Going into the offseason, one of the biggest priorities for the Washington Capitals is finding a No. 1 goaltender. There have been several names thrown around, whether it be pending UFAs or trade targets. And now, a new name has emerged on the block: Sergei Bobrovsky.
Per Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, the Florida Panthers are reportedly pushing hard for a Bobrovsky trade, so much so that they are willing to retain salary — and a lot of it.
“Florida is pushing Bobrovsky hard,” Kypreos said on the “Real Kyper & Bourne” show. “In terms of takers, who needs a goalie, and we are willing to hold cash back. And I’m told as much as 50 percent.”
The Panthers are facing a cap crunch heading into the summer, as they have over 10 free agents, including Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot, to address. Bobrovsky carries a cap hit of $10 million through 2026, but with 50 percent retained, he would only cost $5 million.
Taking all of that into account, and the fact that the Capitals should have some space to work with if they let a few names walk, would Bobrovsky be a name of interest?
The Vezina winner is a proven No. 1 and is still putting up strong numbers as a starter. Through 54 games in 2021-22, he went 39-7-3 with a .913 save percentage and 2.67 GAA to help lead the Cats to the President’s Trophy. His numbers dropped off in the postseason a bit, as he posted a .911 SV% and 2.70 GAA through 10 games. Still, he had some standout showings in the playoffs, and he was far from the reason that Florida’s run ended early.
Still, there is a concern when it comes to his career playoff performance, as he has been known to struggle in the postseason with a .901 SV and 3.13 GAA through nine career playoff runs.
When it comes to salary, Washington could make it work, but it would be a high price to pay for the 33-year-old. Plus, with names like Darcy Kuemper, Ville Husso and Jack Campbell hitting the market, the Capitals may want to keep their options open. So, going all-in on Bob may not be the top choice right away, especially when he has three more years left on his deal.
The team also has to address RFAs Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, and likely choose which one they want to hold onto. That, of course, will also impact cap space and potentially which netminder the team elects to go for in the offseason.
Not only that, but they also need to address their forward situation. Washington is without Tom Wilson likely until at least December as he recovers from a torn ACL and surgery. Plus, Nicklas Backstrom‘s status remains a mystery for the upcoming season.
With two top-6 players possibly missing long-term, the Capitals will have to find some star power and proven scoring up front, and that’ll come with a price tag. While LTIR and the release of Justin Schultz, Michal Kempny and other names can help this, there’s still the matter of saving money, and dropping $5 million on Bobrovsky won’t help there.
Overall, there is plenty to consider for Washington this offseason, and there is time to work with. The Capital can afford to wait until July 13 to see how things play out, but given the price tag, the risk, age and three-year commitment to Bobrovsky, I don’t see Washington making a big push.