Who is goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky?

Sergei Bobrovsky makes a save on John Tavares during the Super Series between Russia and Canada in 2007. Photo via life.com.

The news came out yesterday that the Flyers have signed -- well, they "have an agreement" -- yet another goaltender. This time, it's Russian prospect Sergei Bobrovsky, and when the Philadelphia Flyers are going out and getting a Russian prospect, you know they're really pulling out all the stops.

But who is Sergei Bobrovsky? Besides the fact that his nickname in North America would obviously be 'Bobby,' and that's 100 percent awesome, it's safe to say that nobody around these parts knows anything about the kid. So let's use the Internets and try to figure some things out.

For starters, let's stick with the biographical stuff. He's 21 years old, stands at 6'2", and weighs in at 190 pounds. In 35 games with Metallurg Novokuznetsk this past season, he put together a save percentage of .919 and a goals against average of 2.72. He's been the number one guy with that club for three seasons now, compiling even better numbers last year -- a .927 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA. His team is terrible, so you have to assume those numbers are rather impressive.

It would only make sense, of course, to compare these KHL numbers to those of Ray Emery. In 2008-09 with Mytishchi Atlant, Emery had a .926 save percentage and a 2.12 goals against in 36 games. Consider, though, that Bobrovsky is only 21 years old.

Let's get to the scouting reports on him then, shall we? Here's what RussianProspects.com has to say:

Plays a hybrid style, sometimes he stays too high in front of the crease, allowing too much space in the five-hole area, good ......WANT TO READ MORE? You are not logged in. Please log in if you wish to view the premium section's entire content. If you do not have a premium account, subscribe now!

Hmm, it seems the Russians have caught on to the capitalism thing. The good thing for us, though, is that the writers at that same site contributed to Bobrovsky's page at Hockey's Future, where you don't have to pay to read. More from them after the jump.

Here's the talent analysis section of the profile on Bobrovsky from the fine folks at Hockey's Future:

Bobrovsky is a hybrid goalie who prefers more of a butterfly down lower style than stand-up. The young netminder has above average reaction time and a slightly above average glove side. He has good lateral quickness in the crease, Bobrovsky has impressive quickness and he needs it since he does not take up as much of a net as even his U20 Team Russia teammate Gaiduchenko. The young goalie also tends to skate out far to challenge opponents, though he didn’t do this as much outside of Russian hockey when competing internationally.

[...]

His competitiveness and ability to stop the first shot have been key to his success thus far in his career and he can learn proper rebound control if given more coaching opportunities. Maturity wise, the young 88 born netminder is probably one of the most mature young netminders currently playing in Russia. He took on a lot of responsibility last year and even though handled it very well, especially when backstopping Russia to the bronze medal at the U20 World Junior Championships. His ability to remain composed in difficult situations and remain competitive has been key to his success.

This all sounds well and good, but it's this nugget from an American-side blog that I found even more intriguing. From the Capitals-centric blog Russian Machine Never Breaks:

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.

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?

Writer Fedor Fedin (sounds foreign, he must be connected) goes on to quote a few people who discuss the Russian hockey politicking that apparently goes on when deciding who gets to play goal for the national team, but the answer to the original question is not that Varlamov was the lesser goaltender, but that the coach "trusted" Bobrovsky more. Whatever that means.

More from RMNB:

.. 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.

Obviously, NHL numbers can't really be compared to KHL numbers too much, especially when it comes to goaltending. But I also think it's clear that the young Bobrovsky has potential. He's young, seemingly dominant in the KHL, and there's a chance that he hates the future everyday goaltender in Washington. Nothing wrong with that.

In judging your excitement in his pick up by the Flyers, you have to make the determination on your own on how much stock you put in his KHL success. Either way, though, you have to imagine that, with those numbers, he'll at the very least be able to challenge for an AHL job next season in Glens Falls.

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