Most of our attention this offseason when it came to restricted free agent defensemen fell on Shea Weber while he went to arbitration with the Predators. With that settled now fans wait to see what happens next with L.A.’s Drew Doughty and Toronto’s Luke Schenn, but there’s another young and talented defenseman waiting for a new deal.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian was one of the NHL’s breakout youngsters as an 18 year-old in 2008. That summer he was drafted by Atlanta third overall and was able to jump right into the NHL playing 47 games for the Thrashers and scoring nine goals with ten assists. His 2009-2010 season was even better as he scored 10 goals and added 13 assists, but last season things fell off the map for Bogosian.
With the addition of Dustin Byfuglien to the team as a defenseman, he took Bogosian’s spot on the first power play unit and went on to have a monster season scoring 20 goals and adding 33 assists. Bogosian struggled though finishing the year with five goals and 12 assists and a career low -27 plus/minus rating. After coming off of that year, negotiating a new contract with the Jets might prove tricky.
Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy comments on how things might be handled in Winnipeg with the 21 year-old potential star defenseman and how Bogosian might see his future playing behind a pair of solid blue liners.
A good source in Atlanta suggested Bogosian’s play was hampered by the fact that he was replaced on the power play by newcomer Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. Both of those players are very likely to man the point on the power play moving forward as the franchise attempts to establish itself in Winnipeg which means Bogosian will have trouble putting up the type of numbers he did in his first two years in the league. That in itself may affect his desire to sign long-term with the team.
While Bogosian might be worried about how his future might be with the team behind Byfuglien and Enstrom, Bogosian also has to get his game straightened out as well. While Byfuglien will be in Winnipeg for the next five seasons thanks to his contract extension with the team, if Bogosian has dreams of being the top gun in Winnipeg he can’t be a defensive liability and he’ll need to find ways to be better at producing at even strength.
While the Jets won’t have the same money worries with Bogosian that Los Angeles will have with Doughty or Nashville wound up with in dealing with Weber, this situation is a bit more delicate in that Bogosian has a bright future but is coming off a terrible season. Making sure to take care of the player on the ice is as important as getting him signed to the right kind of deal. The Jets may not want to go long term with Bogosian if they fear last season’s off year was a sign of things to come, but Bogosian might want better security for the future.
It’s a tough spot as there’s a lot of talent there with Bogosian but the Jets don’t want to screw things up either by their books or with a player who could be a cornerstone star for them. Once the Jets get Bogosian locked up, it’ll be curious to see how he handles a new situation in Winnipeg with yet another new head coach in Claude Noel.