01/09/2015 08:21 EST | Updated 03/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Blue Jackets sign goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to 4-year extension

TORONTO - Sergei Bobrovsky won a Vezina Trophy in 2013 and now has a contract to show for being one of the NHL's top goaltenders.

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Bobrovsky to a US$29.7-million, four-year extension that they believe is a worthwhile investment for a 26-year-old in his prime.

"I'm really happy about that and I'm really happy to stay with the team and this organization," Bobrovsky said. "They were great to me and it's great to be a Blue Jacket for four more years."

Bobrovsky won the Vezina in the lockout-shortened 2013 season by going 21-11-6 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

In his NHL career, Bobrovsky, who started with the Philadelphia Flyers, has a 2.50 GAA and .918 save percentage.

"We believe he's only going to improve," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said before his team's game against the Maple Leafs. "Obviously it's ultimately it's up to the player to prove that he's worth the contract that he gets. That's the way we operate, we operate on giving them the futures and that's how we evaluate these players every day, but we believe with his hard work and dedication he's going to be one of the top goalies in this league for a long time."

This season Bobrovsky is 15-11-2 with a 2.80 GAA and .915 save percentage. He missed time with a fractured finger.

"It was a shortened year of the NHL and he just kept getting better and better and better and better and his numbers kept getting better and then he won the Vezina," Kekalainen said. "And so it took a little longer time than usual (to extend him) but that's part of the process."

Bobrovsky's new deal makes him the second highest paid goaltender on an annual basis in the NHL behind Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.

"Obviously getting Sergei signed and him being part of this organization is a big step," coach Todd Richards said. "It's great for the organization and great for the team because we know what he means to this team and this franchise."

Bobrovsky is expected to be named as one of six all-star goaltenders when the league makes its announcement Saturday. All-star weekend is in Columbus.

Undrafted and then signed by the Flyers, Bobrovsky was traded at the 2012 draft to the Blue Jackets for second and third-round picks that year and a fourth-rounder in 2013.

Bobrovsky almost carried the Blue Jackets to the 2013 playoffs on his shoulders, but they fell short. They made it last season and were beaten in the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Bobrovsky showed he a franchise goaltender.

"Bob is a great example of a guy that really puts in the work every day: how he prepares for practice, how he prepares for every game," Kekalainen said. "He's a good example in the locker room and off the ice and on the ice the way he is as a professional. That's the type of leader we want on our team and that's why we've locked up all these core players."

The Blue Jackets recently signed forward Nick Foligno to a $33-million, six-year contract. Bobrovsky said the organization making that deal changed his thinking some.

"Well, yeah, of course," Bobrovsky said. "Foligno is a great teammate, I love him. It's great to stay with him for a long time."

Centre Ryan Johansen missed training camp as a restricted free agent without a contract before agreeing to a three-year deal. He's glad to have Bobrovsky, Foligno and others like Brandon Dubinsky signed long term.

"It's awesome," Johansen said. "Now we can look around the room at each other and know that we're in it together and be here for a few years and you look at those guys we signed and they're some of the biggest players on our team. It's nice we're able to lock them up and we're lucky to have those great players."


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