For the three of you who follow Minor League Russian Hockey, you’re already aware that Caps Defensive Prospect Dmitri Orlov has led the Novokuznetsk Bears – the minor league affiliate of the KHL’s Metallurg Novokuznetsk – to this year’s MHL Finals. But what some of you may not know, is that the starting goaltender of the team, Sergey Bobrovsky, is Semyon Varlamov’s biggest rival in Russia. And sources in Novokuznetsk tell RMNB that Bobrovsky – now free of his Russian Contract – will sign a free agent deal with the Philadelphia Flyers and will play there next year.
Though it has largely flown under the radar in America, the impact of this deal could be huge. We consider it a coup for the Flyers and it could impact the Capitals/Flyers rivalry in the Eastern Conference for many years to come. Bobrovsky, at 21, has been Metallurg Novokuznetsk’s number one goalie for the past three years, and has managed to put up extremely strong numbers this season despite the fact he has been keeping for the KHL’s worst team.
His stats for the season so far are thus:
KHL: 35 GP (1964 Min), 1 SO, 2,72 GAA, .919 SVG%.
MHL (Playoffs): 12 Gp, 1 SO, 2,13 GAA, .929 SVG%.
In Russia, Bobrovsky is well-known as Varlamov’s main opponent for his age. For example, in 2008, former Russian WJC team coach Sergey Nemchinov neglected to call Varly and ask him to play on his World Junior Championship team. Nemchinov instead preferred Bobrovsky. Why? Here’s what he was quoted as saying at the time:
“I didn’t have any conflicts with Semyon Varlamov. I just call guys I trust.”
We here at RMNB thought that this was a pretty weird excuse. Here’s what Semyon Varlamov’s agent had to say on the issue:
“I don’t think that official version is right. [...] I guess that maybe the bosses of “Lokomotiv” [Ed. Note - Varlamov's Former club] asked Nemchinov not to call Semyon because they were having goalie issues.”
Anyways, most fans in Russia didn’t agree with that decision, and now see a huge rivalry between Varly and Bobry. When they played together for the Russian National Junior teams, Varly was almost always the number one goaltender.
But the real reason why this imminent signing is so interesting is because the Flyers used 5 different goalies this year including Brian Boucher, Ray Emery, Michael Leighton, Johan Backlund & Jeremy Duchesne – none of which to great success. With that said, we believe that Bobrovsky has a chance to become the #1 goaltender in Philadelphia sooner rather than later. Consider this fact: Not one of Flyers goalies had a better SVG% this regular season than Bobrovsky did in the KHL.
So, will the Caps/Flyers rivalry soon run hot again? With this upcoming signing, we certainly think so.