The Jets signed the last of their RFAs this afternoon as Zach Bogosian agreed to terms with the club on a two year deal with an AAV of 2.5M. The 21 year old defender struggled in his own end for most of last year, finishing -27 as the burden of difficult competition and Zone Starts proved to be a tough challenge for Atlanta’s top pick in ’08.
It seems clear to me that the Thrashers did him no favours by having him play in the league from day one, irrespective of the fact that they deemed him physically mature enough to handle the bigs, and there’s always been the sense that his development has been hindered by his circumstances. The hard icetime likely held his counting numbers down, of course, so maybe Kevin Cheveldayoff should be thankful that the franchise’s serial mismanagement saved Winnipeg a few bucks, although I suspect he’d rather that the young man had been groomed with more care.
WIth that noted, the deal seems to be about right for both parties. Two years gives the club a chance to see how good Bogosian can be before committing major dollars to him, and it affords them the opportunity to allow Charlie Huddy to aid Bogosian’s development. Huddy has a very good reputation as an assistant coach adept at helping defenders learn the nuances of play in their own end, which is precisely the primary need in this case.
It’s also a deal that doesn’t hamstring the club for next year and beyond. Evander Kane’s ELC expires after this year, and the club will almost certainly have to spend a decent buck retaining his services, so avoiding an overpay on Bogosian’s contract permits Cheveldayoff to operate a bit more freely next summer with Bogosian’s 12/13 contract in place at an acceptable number.
From the player POV, Bogosian can spend the next two years continuing to learn his craft, with the possibility of a long-term payoff at contract’s end. As well, like all the new arrivals to Winnipeg, he can use the next two years deciding whether this organization suits him. He’ll still be a restricted free agent for two more seasons after his deal expires, but as we saw with Shea Weber, a guy can certainly get paid via arbitration, and he could be in line for a long term deal at signifcant dollars should he progress to the level hinted at by his physical gifts.
It’s easy for a team to be seduced by potential when attempting to sign young players, and there are a few second contracts inked since the lock-out that must make GMs slightly ill. My sense is that Zach Bogosian’s deal won’t be one of them, since the term and dollars are completely manageable for the Jets. I suppose that the club could be running the admittedly slight risk of Bogosian blossoming into a Weber-level player over the next two years and having to face those financial consequences, but there are worse problems to have. I think the club has done well here, and if Bogosian progresses to the level everyone would hope, he’ll still have a chance to get his and then some in the summer of 2013.