Gonchar Signing: Why Jets Fans Should Care

Travis Hrubeniuk
June 10 2013 11:27AM

Photo from Wikimedia
 

This weekend the Dallas Stars made what can be considered the first “big” move of the NHL’s 2013 Free Agency period. After obtaining his rights from the Ottawa Senators, the freshly branded Stars signed upcoming UFA Sergei Gonchar to a 2-year, $10 million contract, officially removing him from the market. Although this may seem like a simple decision for the Jets new rivals, it may have more of a tickle-down effect than some may think. Especially, in my opinion, on the signing of Zach Bogosian.

The Money

The free agency bar has now been set. I would be foolish to say that Sergei Gonchar is the same type of player as Bogosian, but you can bet that this deal will be brought up during any negotiations they have. Gonchar is an offensive minded player who is currently the career points leader among active NHL defensemen, but is starting to get old (he’s 39), and at times is a defensive liability. He still remains a solid powerplay option, but in my opinion $5 million a year is just too much for a player that was no longer desired in an offensively-inept locker room.

2012/13

Age

Points

TOI

Rel QoC

Off Zone Start %

2013-14 $$

Gonchar

39

27

23:59

0.238

55.8

$5 million

Bogosian

22

11

23:07

1.115

45.3

???

The question now is, how will Zach Bogosian’s camp look at this as a comparison point? Statistically, Bogosian and Gonchar were used in two very different roles last season, and seemingly over thier careers thus far. Despite playing similar minutes, Gonchar is a guy who provides offensive flair, whereas Bogosian has been used by the Jets as a shut down guy with some offensive upside. In fact, Bogo actually scored more goals in the shortened season. You can consider each player a key factor to the blueline, just playing different roles upon it. Clearly the Stars felt as if they needed to upgrade their offense from the blue line and improve their powerplay, to the tune of $5 million a year.  The Jets very obviously need to ensure they can lock up the few players they have who can actually defend, meaning Bogosian becomes of similar value to this franchise.  At least that's how you would imagine Bogosian's agent will approach things.

Bogosian is seen as a main pillar that the Jets franchise will be built on and being only 22 years old, (23 in July) still has tremendous upside. This factor alone, I believe, has the power to really push up what Bogoisan is asking for.  After all, if a player who was on a statistical slide until this season is worth $5 million at age 39, a player who has been improving in all facets since joining the league has to be worth what at age 22? $5.6 million? $6 million? Whatever the number is, you can bet that it just went up a little.

The “Paul Holmgren Factor”

With Gonchar officially off the market, the pool of free agent defensemen just got a little smaller.  When you look at how small that pool alreally is, that's a big deal.  It is common knowledge that many teams would love to add a solid top-2 pairing defenseman, and the Jets just happen to have one in Zach Bogosian. Should the contract dealings of Evander Kane and Bogosian’s first deal as a Jet be any sign, there is a chance that coming to agreeable terms for both sides may not be easy. Especially in a city that everyone knows can’t afford to constantly break the bank.

Cue the Philadelphia Flyers. A team who just last year showed that they are willing to prey on the financially-conscious (Shea Weber & Nashville) with offer sheets, and who are still searching for a big, strong, defensively dependable defenseman. Uh oh. The Flyers are set to use their amnesty buyouts as soon as they can, which will certainly open up cap space for them to splurge on a defenseman. Should the Jets not be close to settling things with Bogosian, you would have to think that he would be a top target. Doesn’t seem like a very nice way to thank the team that left Sean Couturier on the table for them in 2011.

What Does It All Mean?

Basically that nothing has changed. Lockout shmock-out. Players will get paid, the Flyers will over-spend, and the Jets need to act smartly and swiftly unless they want to gamble with their assets. So please Chevy, get this done and sign Bogosian before you’re forced to do something you don’t want to.

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