So it turns out the Flyers CAN produce the league’s best goaltender.
He just happens to play for another team.
Bobrovsky, now with Columbus after cutting his teeth with the Flyers, won the Vezina Trophy in a landslide Saturday; the award, voted upon by general managers, is given to the NHL’s top goalie.
“Bob” received 17 first-place votes, eight seconds and a third. He totaled 110 points, doubling the total of the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who finished second with 55 points.
The 24-year-old Russian goalie also finished fifth in the MVP voting.
In other words, the Flyers’ impatience turned into gold for the Blue Jackets.
Bobrovsky was 21-11-6 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .932 save percentage last season. He kept Columbus in playoff contention until the final moments of the season.
He became the youngest player to win the Vezina since the Capitals’ Jim Carey, 22, in 1996.
The Flyers sent Bobrovsky to Columbus for second- (promising goalie Anthony Stolarz) and fourth-round (left winger Taylor Leier) selections in the 2012 draft. They also acquired a fourth-rounder in the 2013 draft.
Bobrovsky had a terrific rookie year (28-13-8, 2.59, .915) with the Flyers in 2010-11, but coach Peter Laviolette grew impatient with him as he struggled in the playoffs that season. The Flyers then added Ilya Bryzgalov after the season, and Bobrovsky was not comfortable in a backup role in 2011-12 and GM Paul Holmgren traded him to the Jackets.
“I didn’t know a lot about Sergei before we acquired him,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. “But after the trade was out at the draft, Peter Laviolette tapped me on the shoulder and wanted to talk. He just went on about Sergei Bobrovsky: ‘You’re going to love this guy. He competes. He works. He’ll help drive your team. He’s a great kid.’ That got me excited, and he was absolutely right on all of it.”
The irony of all this, of course, is that there could be a happy ending for the Flyers, too, because Bobrovsky’s strong play made goalie Steve Mason expendable _ and he excelled in a late-season stint after being dealt to Philadelphia.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.