The Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to make any headway with soon-to-be restricted free agent goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch on Friday.
Kekalainen spoke with Bobrovsky's agent, Paul Theofanous, in Boston on Wednesday, but the Columbus manager told the Dispatch that talks were not productive and that the two sides are no closer to an agreement.
Considering the circumstances, this situation isn't that surprising.
Bobrovsky and his representation are negotiating with a considerable amount of leverage. The goalie is coming off of a season where the 24-year-old goaltender won the Vezina Trophy and he also has the option of playing in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League or waiting out an offer sheet from a rival club if something doesn't get done with Columbus. The Blue Jackets still have every intention of retaining Bobrovsky, though, and have said they'll match any such offer they're able to match (though Bobrovsky can sign anywhere in Europe if a deal isn't agreed upon by July 1).
Kekalainen appears to understand that Bobrovsky wants -- and likely deserves -- a larger contract. At the same time, though, the manager knows the franchise needs to make a smart business decision.
Bobrovsky played well in 2013, but it was for a short period of time given the truncated nature of the season and while past performance gives some indication to the goaltender's potential, it doesn't necessarily warrant a long-term commitment that could potentially absorb a substantial chunk of the team's salary cap space (and budgetary allocation).
Bobrovsky's contractual commitment to the Blue Jackets officially expires on July 1 as the goaltender recently finished the final year of his three-year, $2.7 million entry-level contract.