COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - What Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen had called ``a big piece of the puzzle'' fell into place Monday when the club signed goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a two-year contract extension.
The 24-year-old Russian, recipient of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie this past season, could have become a restricted free agent this week.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the team. Bobrovsky was paid $1.750 million last season. His representative, Paul Theofanous, was not immediately available. The Columbus Dispatch reported that the new deal was for $5.625 million per year.
``I'm very happy to be a Columbus Blue Jacket,'' Bobrovsky said. ``My wife (Olga) and I really like Columbus and the fans have been very nice to us and supportive of our team. I'm looking forward to the season and working with my teammates to help us to our goal of winning a Stanley Cup.''
Kekalainen called the re-signing of Bobrovsky his top objective but had made little headway until just before the start of Sunday's NHL draft.
Acquired from Philadelphia for draft picks last summer, Bobrovsky blossomed in Columbus. He had a 21-11-6 record with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and four shutouts. His stellar play fueled the Blue Jackets' 19-5-5 finish that brought them within a tiebreaker of making the playoffs.
``Re-signing Sergei Bobrovsky was a top priority for our organization,'' Kekalainen said. ``He was a big part of the progress we made last season and we expect him to play an important role in the growth of our team.''
A native of Novokuznetsk, Russia, he was acquired by the Blue Jackets from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for second- and fourth-round picks in the 2012 draft and a fourth-round pick in yesterday's draft.
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