Bogosian signs for 7 years and $36 million

- July 29th, 2013

The Winnipeg Jets won’t have any arbitration hearings after all, not after Zach Bogosian agreed to terms with the club on a monster seven year deal that will pay the emerging D-man $36 million and carry a salary-cap hit of $5.14 million per season.

As has been the case with each of the past three deals signed with RFAs with arbitration rights during the past week, the comments poured in fast and furious about how Bogosian is the latest guy to be overpaid by the Jets.

It’s easy to see that point of view, but in the overall scheme of things, by buying five years of future UFA status for Bogosian, I think the Jets got the Massena, N.Y. product for less than I originally anticipated, which was to come in somewhere around $50 million for eight years.

I thought the Jets would go to the maximum length contract with Bogosian and pay him slightly more than Toby Enstrom, who carries an AAV of $5.75 million on an extension that kicks in this season.

But after watching several D-men sign recently — like Ryan McDonagh at $4.7 million per for six seasons — I thought Bogosian would come in right around $5 million. And he did.

Having covered McDonagh during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for Sun Media, I grew to have a much greater appreciation for how good he is. It’s safe to say McDonagh is slightly more advanced as a player at this stage of his career in terms of being more well-rounded.

It will be interesting to watch both men — who would make an interesting shutdown pairing for Team USA at the Sochi Olympics in February — throughout the next few seasons to further chart their respective development.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that both the Rangers and Jets will be thrilled at the dollar amount on the current deals when it comes time to negotiate once again.

I also expect both McDonagh and Bogosian to be in the Norris discussion down the road.

There’s an extensive package in Tuesday’s Winnipeg Sun and online at www.winnipegsun.com that includes a main piece on Bogosian, a sidebar on his Olympic pursuit and a column on how it’s time to see if the players can take the team to the next level after the organization has invested in its core.

Since Bogosian spoke for nearly 15 minutes and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff went for nearly half an hour, there were plenty of leftovers and I’ll share some of them below. Spoiler alert, there’s a few more nuggets I may drop in a post later this week.

Bogosian realizes there is additional responsibility that comes with a big-ticket deal, but he’s planning to keep the same approach and push to take his game (and the team) to the next level.

“I obviously want to be the best player I can be,” said Bogosian, who has 34 goals and 103 points in 297 NHL games with the Jets and the Atlanta Thrashers. “I think the pressure, as a professional athlete, as a professional hockey player, you put pressure on yourself. I go into every day, whether it’s the gym or on the ice, I work my hardest and I’m fully committed all the time. Personally I just want to come in (to) training camp ready to go. It seems like every year I’ve gotten more and more comfortable, and hopefully that’s the case moving into this year. I’m just really looking forward to having, I guess, hopefully, a bigger role on the team and just keep moving forward.

“But I think knowing that you’re going to be there for the next seven years is obviously comforting, knowing that you have a home and you have the core group of guys that have been together now for a few years for that much longer, it’s going to be a good thing for us to move together as a group.”

Bogosian, who turned 23 last week but has already played five NHL seasons, had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday and it was clear neither side wanted things to get to that point.

But was there a time when the two sides started to sense a deal was imminent?

“Not really. Deals all sort of have peaks and valleys, or lulls and pushes. This was fairly typical of that,” said agent Bob Murray, who represents Bogosian. “Both sides kept working fairly diligently towards getting it done. Chevy did a great job of conveying to use their desire to keep Zach long-term. That made Zach feel very good and very appreciative of Mr. Chipman and the organization’s willingness to do that. It was just a matter of keeping at it. No major issues.”

Murray wouldn’t disclose what Bogosian was going to ask for in arbitration.

“Arbitration is a different ball of wax than what we’re dealing with here. Arbitration would have been a one or two-year award and the Jets would have had the choice (under terms of the CBA). So that makes it different. The negative, for both sides, was if we ended up at a two-year arbitration award, that Zach becomes unrestricted and who knows where things go from there. Both sides wanted to find a way to keep Zach in Winnipeg for as long as it made sense,” said Murray. “We were able to come to an equitable resolution. It just took time for both sides, to see what the market for Zach Bogosian really was. As that clarified itself, it was fine-tuning it and getting it done.”

Why seven years?

“I don’t think there was any magic to the seven (years),” said Murray. “It could have been six, could have been seven, could have been eight. Both sides just felt that made sense and Zach, right from the beginning, was looking to get some sort of long-term deal so he could stay in Winnipeg. Zach likes it there, he likes the coaches, likes the organization, likes the team they have. Likes the city, likes the fans. The ownership has been very good for him and in his mind, he’s been part of this organization for five years. In his mind, it’s been five years and there’s a loyalty he feels to an organization to get this organization where they want to be, which is to win a Cup.”

Bogosian has been consistent in his approach, regularly expressing his love for Winnipeg and how the move to the Jets helped him get his game back in order.

“I made it clear since obviously my first time being in Winnipeg it was obviously a place that I wanted to be for a long time. I’m just real happy that Winnipeg believed in me and kind of gave me another chance to kind of prove myself,” said Bogosian. “I didn’t exactly have the best start of my career in Atlanta, and obviously moving up to Winnipeg gave me a new chance to play in a hockey market and play in a hockey town that really I enjoyed playing in front of. That’s kind of where the term came in.”

Bogosian reiterated how assistant coach — and longtime NHL defenceman Charlie Huddy — has been the ying to his yang.

“Anyone who’s ever coached me at all, they say I’m pretty high strung on the bench and have quite the temper sometimes. (Huddy) is the calming influence sometimes,” said Bogosian. “I get a little fired up back there. But he always stays calm and when he tries to explain something to you, it’s not in a bad way. He teaches you by talking to you and showing you video and stuff like that. That’s been one of the best things for me. When you play for someone who is always yelling and screaming, sometimes it’s hard to focus and stuff like that. Charlie has been great, in terms of being calm and being that calming influence back there on the back end.”

With a glut of right-handed shooting blue-liners in the system, Bogosian was asked if he was willing to play the left side if the situation arose.

“I played a little bit on the left this year, I played with (Paul) Postma a few times. I don’t know, I’ll play wherever they want me to play. As long as I can help the team out that way. We have a good coaching staff that can make those decisions. That’s not mine. If they need me to play on the left side, I will. But I haven’t been asked to very much. We’ll see where that goes,” said Bogosian, the third overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff offered plenty of praise for Bogosian but didn’t seem to like my question about whether he thought the blue-liner might one day become a Norris Trophy candidate.

“Those are individual accolades that I think every player certainly aspires to, but I think the way that those things are achieved are through team success. And I think even if you ask him that question, he’d probably say all he’s worried about is helping the team to get better,” said Cheveldayoff. “I like the relationship that Zach has with Charlie Huddy. I like the work ethic that Zach has. I like the honest person and commitment and just the down-home kind of guy that he is. I see these guys, how they prepare for games, I see how much they care, I see how much they put into it.”

Cheveldayoff was hopeful to get deals done before arbitration (as he did) but realized from the beginning it was going to take time, even though plenty of fans were wondering what was taking so long.

“There were always great lines of communication with all the respective free agents that had arbitration rights. Even though the communications ultimately led to good results, it is a business process. There’s lots of things, even in the course of time of coming to an agreement, that we’ve agreed to disagree on. That’s all part of negotiations. One thing that was always very evident was that if we could strike the right deal, these players wanted to commit to Winnipeg,” said Cheveldayoff.

When asked about getting some of the biggest priorities of the off-season taken care of, Cheveldayoff wasn’t about to declare it a success just yet.

“Certainly there’s lots of things that have transpired,” said Cheveldayoff. “My staff has worked extremely hard and at a methodical pace to make sure that we were able to get the type of deals on term and money that we’re comfortable with.

“The real evaluation process starts when you drop the puck. No awards, no trophies, no wins or losses happen in June, July, August and September. It’s really, truly when the puck drops and as you continue to play throughout the season. That’s the evaluation that really matters.”

Things should be a little quieter for Cheveldayoff during the next month, but there are still some entry-level contracts to get done, some depth players to add and possibly some training camp invites to send out.

The heavy lifting may be done, but the real work is merely beginning for the Jets.

Categories: Hockey

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