Winnipeg Jets RFA Analysis: No Time to Panic
With Ben Maxwell accepting the Winnipeg Jets’ qualifying offer and re-upping with the squad on a two-way contract for one season, some fans are beginning to worry that the team’s two most important restricted free agents, Zach Bogosian and Blake Wheeler are not getting done.
Bogosian is the most important signing the Jets have, but does not have arbitration rights, so the Jets and him could be in for a protracted negotiation. That said, Karl Alzner just signed a contract for two seasons in Washington that will only help Jets management in their negotiations.
More on the players the Jets still need to sign after the jump.
Alzner does not have the experience Bogosian does, having only played 133 games through his first three seasons, but is a stay-at-home defender, so he was employed in a similar manner to Bogosian last season. Considering Alzner signed for $1.285 million for the next two seasons (courtesy of Capgeek), Bogosian’s negotiating leverage has probably taken a fair step back. The American rearguard will still command and almost assuredly receive more money than Alzner, as documented in our contract analysis a few weeks back, but the possibility of any sort of hold out seems more remote. Also, remember this is only mid-July, there should be no panicking over this lack of contract until late August at the earliest.
With respect to Wheeler, there is an end date to this contract stalemate, as Wheeler is headed to arbitration in early August. Wheeler is no stranger to arbitration, having opted for it last season with Boston. In fact, no negotiation with Wheeler seems to be easy. If he wins another arbitration, like he did last season, he could be on his way out of Winnipeg sometime during the season. The Jets brass wants cost effectiveness and if no negotiation with Wheeler is going to be easy, the team may opt to turn him into another asset before he prices himself out of town or presents a personality clash with management.
Fan patience will be important in this stalemate because in reality, there is little to panic about on July 18. If we are having this same discussion about Zach Bogosian on August 18 that may not even be cause for concern, September 18, that is a whole other story.
Jets fans just hope it does not come to that.