Winnipeg Jets Contract Week: What is Zach Bogosian worth?
What is Zach Bogosian Worth?
With apologies to Bryan Little (the focus of yesterday’s RFA analysis), and Blake Wheeler (the focus of tomorrow’s RFA analysis), in my opinion Zach Bogosian is the most important restricted free agent the Jets need to sign this off-season.
Bogosian skates as well as any NHL defenceman, hits with a vengeance, has a booming slap shot and, as demonstrated last season, is becoming an on-ice leader for the Jets. Perhaps most important to Jets fans is that Bogosian, by all accounts, legitimately enjoys playing in Winnipeg, and consequently has grown into a fan favourite for the Jets 2.0.
Given the skill set that Bogosian brings to the table, there would be no surprise if the Jets attempted to sign Bogosian to a long-term agreement. Unlike the Evander Kane contract negotiation of last off-season, which included (thus far unsubstantiated) rumblings that he was not enamored with playing in Winnipeg, that issue does not appear to be a factor with regard to Bogosian’s desire to re-up with the Jets, potentially on a long term basis.
With a seemingly mutual interest, let’s examine Bogosian’s statistics, as well as comparable players and contract situations, in order to determine a reasonable contractual framework for both the Winnipeg Jets and Zach Bogosian’s representatives to work within.
The American rearguard has seen his ice-time at five-on-five increase over the past three seasons, whereas his power play and penalty killing ice-time has stayed relatively stagnant.
His blocked shots, hits and goal totals have increased on a per-game basis which are all good signs. Additionally, Bogosian is facing the toughest competition of all Winnipeg Jets defencemen, which indicates that Claude Noel has developed a trust for Bogosian just as Craig Ramsay had in the 2010-11 season in Atlanta.
People often forget that Zach Bogosian entered the league at 18 years old, and played for three coaches in his first four NHL seasons. The lack of continuity in the head coach position, each with a different system and expectations, only serves to hinder a player’s development, especially a defenseman who tends to take longer to develop than a forward.
Zach Bogosian is a unique defenseman. He seems to have taken strides offensively but does not (yet, if ever) possess the offensive ability of a Drew Doughty, the player taken one selection ahead of him in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. To examine Bogosian strictly through goals, assists and points would be misleading and would not provide an accurate reflection of the player..
Let’s examine a number of players who either produce similarly to Bogosian points-wise (only one aspect of the game, especially for a young defenseman), were drafted in and around the same time as the New York State native and/or have signed contract extensions in the recent past.
Here are five comparable defenceman:
1. Drew Doughty
2. Brent Burns;
3. Alexander Edler;
4. Braydon Coburn; and
5. Marc-Édouard Vlasic.
It should be noted that all of the above defencemen are under 30, used in all situations, skate very well and have been considered top defensive prospects in their respective organizations.
Now let’s take a look at their respective salary situations.
Here are the comparables and their respective salaries:
All of the above referenced players are now signed to long-term contract, with the shortest one being four years in length. Extrapolating this information, it appears that four years will be the lowest benchmark in term of length for Zach Bogosian’s next contract.
Conversely, only Drew Doughty is signed to a maximum NHL contract—although it is worth noting that his contract was signed prior to the NHL term limit that came into place this past January in the new CBA.
The majority of the aforementioned players were completing their second NHL contracts and were looking for the biggest contracts, financially, of their NHL careers. While Bogosian is younger than all the above players except for Drew Doughty (same draft year), compared to the above players, the fact Bogosian entered the league at 18 years old accelerated his UFA eligibility clock (Bogosian would first be eligible for unrestricted free agency after two more NHL seasons accrued).
His age is mutually beneficial to both himself and to the Jets, as it allows him more years to make big money and ensures the team that they will be using his services during more of his “prime years” with five years of experience already under his belt.
While it seems that a contract between Bogosian and the Jets makes a lot of sense for both sides, we cannot complete disregard other alternatives:
This does not appear to be a realistic possibility and really, why would it be? The possibility of the Jets trading from defence, a position of strength, to acquire a forward (or two)—preferably a center or right winger—was dealt with in our piece regarding Dustin Byfuglien’s trade value in April. Another possibility that could be explored is the team moving Tobias Enstrom, but given that is strictly rumor mongering, we will leave that discussion for another day.
Bogosian’s name, however, is not likely to enter the rumour mill anytime soon.
Bogosian Receives Offer Sheet
This is a more valid concern. The Jets are deemed to be, at most, a mid-market franchise. Teams such as the Philadelphia Flyers have demonstrated that they do not lack the financial ability or chutzpah to sign a player (i.e. Shea Weber) to a sizable and significant offer sheet. The inception of the eight-year maximum contract in the new CBA, and accompanying rules regarding annual variance in salary, does make this type of offer more difficult but it cannot be ruled out nonetheless.
The longer a negotiation takes between the Jets and Zach Bogosian, the more rumblings you will hear about such a possibility (i.e. the Ryan O’Reilly situation). In any event, any offer to Bogosian that would make the Jets really consider declining their right to match, would have to be at such a high value that the compensation in return to the Jets, would be at least two first round draft picks and a couple lower round picks (2nd and 3rd).
Conclusion: Value and Term
Zach Bogosian is a difficult player to forecast for future success. More specifically, he is a difficult player to forecast to which level of success he will reach. Will he take the next step offensively? If he does not, he is still an extremely valuable NHL defenceman who is just entering the prime of his career, yet is already experienced, with five seasons of NHL playing time under his belt.
Few will argue he is at the level of Drew Doughty, but really, who is?
A comparison to the likes of Alexander Edler and Brent Burns relies on a jump in offensive production for a player that has never exceeded five goals in a season (to be fair, he had five goals in the lockout shortened 2012-13, a season in which he was injured to start the season).
A comparison to the likes of Braydon Coburn and Marc-Edouard Vlasic illuminates his value in all situations, both offensively and defensively.
Based on the market and the comparables provided, it appears that fair term and value for Bogosian is as follows:
Duration: 6 years
Cap Hit: $5.5
Total: $33.0 million