Bobrovsky played out the final year of his entry-level contract that carried an average annual value of $1.75 million against the salary cap in 2013. He is set to become a restricted free agent this summer.
Kekalainen stated the two sides haven't made any progress on a new deal, via the Columbus Dispatch:
"We've talked. We've exchanged ideas. But we haven't made any progress, really. It's been pretty quiet for a while now."
Bobrovsky registered an ideal performance for a contract year. Compiling a record of 21-11-6 with a goals-against average of 2.00 and a .932 save percentage, the 24-year-old goaltender also earned a nomination as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. With that in mind, it's not that surprising to hear the two sides haven't made much progress in contract talks. Bobrovsky is largely considered the favorite to win the award, which will certainly be a sizable bargaining chip for his camp.
It seems likely that negotiations will begin in earnest after the trophy is awarded during the Stanley Cup Finals.
Regardless, Kekalainen made it clear that Columbus plans to retain Bobrovsky. The organization will extend him a qualifying offer in June, which will allow them to retain his rights. In the event that he gets to free agency on July 5 and accepts an offer sheet from a rival club, the Blue Jackets will be able to match the offer.
Kekalainen doesn't think it will get to that point, but in the event it does, he made it clear the team will match:
"It's obvious what we're going to do if it goes that far. We have great ownership: committed ownership. We would match any offer there might be, but I'm optimistic we won't get to that point."