Some surprising news came out Columbus on Thursday afternoon when the Blue Jackets announced that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would be absent from the team during their game against the Nashville Predators. There wasn't a lot of information given with that announcement, but the language of the statement suggests it was a disciplinary decision.
According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN/The Athletic, Bobrovsky has been at odds with Columbus coach John Tortorella this year and things may have come to a head recently. The goaltender was pulled from the third period of Tuesday's game against the Lightning after giving up four goals on 19 shots and went straight to the locker room rather than sit on the bench.
The Blue Jackets said Bobrovsky may return to practice with the team on Friday, meaning this could be just a one-day punishment for the 30-year-old goalie, but he will have to meet with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen before being cleared to do so.
Considering the fact that Bobrovsky is on the final year of his current contract ($7.425 million AAV) and is unlikely to re-sign with the Blue Jackets — there has been no reported progress on an extension — there's some speculation that he could be shipped out of Columbus before the trade deadline. This recent drama likely won't help quell those rumors.
The two-time Vezina winner is having a down year (.906 save percentage in 32 games) but the Blue Jackets are in the Eastern Conference playoff picture halfway through the season, so they may elect to hold onto him for the remainder of this year for the sake of a postseason run — even if it means losing him for nothing this offseason.
But if Columbus decides against holding onto Bobrovsky, whether it be for the purpose of the locker room and/or asset management, there could be a number of teams potentially interested in the veteran goaltender. Keep in mind that Bobrovsky has a full no-movement clause in his contract and would need to approve any deal. Here are six potential landing spots for Bobrovsky:
San Jose Sharks
If Bobrovsky wants to get traded to a contender, there may not be a more attractive option than San Jose. The Sharks have already made a strong (potential) rental investment in Erik Karlsson, and they could have interest in doubling down with Bobrovsky. They're still hoping to make a push for the Pacific division (and a Stanley Cup) despite the fact that their goaltending has been worst in the league to this point in the season. However, they've got Martin Jones under contract at $5.75 million AAV through 2024, little cap space and no available first round picks to play with until 2022. A deal might be tough unless there's mutual interest in swapping Bob for Jones.