Jets begin contract talks with Bogosian


Talks are underway between the Winnipeg Jets and Zach Bogosian for a contract extension, according to the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe.

The Jets had a “preliminary contract discussion” with Bogosian’s agent, Bob Murray, on Thursday.

This negotiation promises to be an interesting one as Bogosian, a 22-year-old restricted free agent, is about to see his two-year, $5 million deal expire.

He signed that deal after his entry-level contract expired in 2011, and should be in line for a big payday this summer.

Though he’s dealt with health issues over the last two years (missing 32 games with wrist, lower- and upper-body injuries), the former No. 4 overall pick has been a solid producer when healthy.

Bogosian had 14 points in 33 games this year, but averaged 23:07 TOI — second only to fellow Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.

Last year, he posted a career-high 30 points in 65 games.

The Jets are in a unique position when it comes to re-signing Bogosian. They’re roughly $28 million under the cap for 2013-14, but only have 12 players under contract.

On the blueline, they’ve already got big money locked into Byfuglien ($5.2 million per until 2016) and Tobias Enstrom ($5.75 million per until 2018) and it’s expected that highly-touted 2012 first-rounder Jacob Trouba will have a shot at making the roster next year.

The Jets also have RFA defensemen Zach Redmond, Paul Postma and Arturs Kulda to sort out, and it’s anybody’s guess what becomes of UFAs Ron Hainsey and Grant Clitsome.

An added element is the potential of an offer sheet.

At 22, Bogosian has a lot of hockey still to play and an aggressive team could put Winnipeg in a financial bind — if the offer sheet was big enough.

Jets defenseman Kulda heads to KHL

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Winnipeg’s Arturs Kulda didn’t have many NHL games, 15 career to be exact, but he’s taking them all and heading to Siberia. Literally.

According to the website of KHL Sibir Novosibirsk (link in Russian) Kulda has left the NHL for the Russian pro league. Kulda played in nine games last season for the Jets with no points and just four penalty minutes. The Jets will retain his rights for the time being as he’s a restricted free agent, but for now he’s off to Russia to see if he can get a bit more playing time in a top league.

Kulda has spent most of his career in the AHL with both the Chicago Wolves and St. John’s IceCaps. Last season, he had six goals and 14 assists for the IceCaps.

Former Adams Award winner Ted Nolan takes job as Team Latvia head coach

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Former Jack Adams Award winner with the Buffalo Sabres, Ted Nolan, is back in the game as a head coach but it’s not in the NHL.

Nolan accepted the job as head man for Team Latvia’s hockey team and he’ll help them gear up for future World Championships and eventually the 2014 Olympics. While it was rumored that Mike Keenan was being sought out for the job last week, it ends up being Nolan that takes the job.

Nolan’s job isn’t going to be easy. Latvia finished 13th at the 2011 IIHF World Championships and avoided being sent down to IIHF Division I after surviving the relegation round. As for what Latvia was looking for in a coach, James Mirtle makes note from the Latvian hockey president what they were looking for.

“We were looking for a neutral, authoritative coach with lots of experience and good hockey knowledge,” Latvian Hockey President Kirovs Lipmans said. “This is exactly what we found with Ted Nolan.”

Nolan will be the first North American to coach Team Latvia since 1939 and for him, the cupboard of NHL talent is sparse. The current Latvian NHLers is a short list and unimpressive to say the least. Defensemen Oskars Bartulis, Karlis Skrastins, and Arturs Kulda as well as forward Raitis Ivanans are the only four in the league and Ivanans missed most of last season with a concussion and is still dealing with the effects from that. These are good reasons why Latvia is currently ranked 12th in the world in hockey and why Nolan is getting the call to try and make something out of nothing.

The brand of hockey Nolan will bring is a tough, defensive one that can have great success on the international stage. Nolan can have a tough demeanor, however, and how that works with a foreign team will be curious to see. Despite Nolan’s successes as a head coach in the NHL, he’s only coached for four seasons (two each with Buffalo and New York) twice leading teams to the playoffs.

His record as a coach was solid going 147-140 with 19 ties and 21 overtime losses as well, but issues with the front offices in both Buffalo and Long Island led to his demise. While Buffalo did well moving on from Nolan to Lindy Ruff, the Islanders haven’t made the playoffs again since Nolan took them there in 2007. Here’s to hoping Nolan can work his magic in Riga, Latvia and get a proud country to be competitive once again.

Isles defenseman Radek Martinek hospitalized after vicious hit during World Championships

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Head shots and dirty hits don’t just happen in the NHL, they’re happening at the 2011 World Championships in Slovakia as well.  Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek was severely injured during his Team Czech Republic game against Team Latvia this afternoon when he was unsuspectingly caught in the head by a shoulder hit from Thrashers defenseman Arturs Kulda.

During the first period of play in the Czech Republic’s 4-2 win, Martinek was moving the puck up along the boards and dished off just as Kulda launched himself into Martinek catching him in the head with his shoulder (video). Martinek went straight down to the ice out cold and was removed from the ice on a stretcher. The blow gave Martinek an injury to his spine and a concussion but he’s in stable condition in a Bratislava hospital.

The injury comes at a terrible time in his career as Martinek was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Martinek’s injury history would’ve made him a tougher than normal sell to a team in need of blue line help, but he was rounding into his game last season with the Isles.  With what figures to be a terrible concussion, his road to return in the NHL will be a longer one and without a team to play for come July 1, it might be a while before we see him hit the ice again in the NHL. Martinek is being ruled out of the rest of the World Championships.