Sergei Bobrovsky Is the New Nik Vucevic, And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

Sergei Bobrovsky Is the New Nik Vucevic, And the Hits Just Keep on Coming
March 12, 2013, 9:37 am
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Young guys. Talented or potentially talented. Ruled extraneous with the addition of two high-profile, veteran acquisitions at their positions. Acquisitions that have not gone to plan.

The young guys, by the way, are flourishing.

By now, we're all familiar with the tale of Nik Vucevic, whom the Sixers selected 16th overall out of USC in 2011. The 7-foot center played in 51 games in last year's lockout-shortened season for 15 minutes per, scoring 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds, before appearing in just one playoff game for a grand total of 180 seconds.

He was traded to the Orlando Magic this summer so the Sixers could land Andrew Bynum and is now fifth in the NBA in rebounds per game (11.4) and fourth in rebounds per 48 minutes (16.8). Bynum, of course, has not played a game with the Sixers and possibly never will (cue your outrage at my use of the word possibly).

But now, we're being reminded of Bobrovsky, who was traded to Columbus this summer for a second-round draft pick and two fourth-round choices. Bob carried the load in his rookie season (28-13-8, 2.59, .915) before flaming out down the stretch, giving way to the Flyers' 2011-playoffs goaltending carousel that resulted in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter's exit from Philadelphia and a nine-year, $51 million contract for Ilya Bryzgalov. Made a backup upon Bryz's arrival, the then-23 year old played in 29 games last season, posting a sub-.900 save percentage and was sent out of town when it didn't make sense to have a young kid back up a guy with eight years left on his contract.

Bob's numbers weren't anything to get excited about for the first three weeks of the season, but then he started being quietly good, and now he's impossible to ignore. In his last five games, he's allowed just four goals, posted two shutouts and stopped 124 of 128 shots sent his way. That stretch has dropped his season-long GAA to 2.27 and raised his save percentage to .919.

Bryzgalov is now — and was as soon as the CBA was released — the topic of amnesty speculation. He's currently overworked, looks shaky, has a sub-.900 save percentage, and without improvement could be bought out sometime during the next 18 months.

There is no one on the planet who wouldn't have parted with Vucevic for Bynum.

And so long as the Flyers were committed to Bryzgalov, it didn't make sense to have Bobrovsky on the bench. It's really tough to argue that the club could have gotten any more for him, because he was losing value as a backup with a +3.00 GAA and -.900 save percentage.

To argue that the Sixers or Flyers should have done anything different at the time is to try to look intelligent after the fact.

That said, after the fact, in retrospect, with hindsight being what it is, now that the cards are out on the table, insert euphemism here, the Flyers and Sixers are — at this very moment — on the short end of both trades.

The only way to actually tell for sure, over the long-term, is to come back six months from now, or a year from now, or two years from now, or a decade from now, and check again — when the moment will have past.

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