Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bogosian too important an asset to let slip away

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Jets fans who own a Zach Bogosian jersey don't need to panic over the lack of a new contract. He's going to be with the Jets and likely for a long time.

The spectre of an offer-sheet, a hold out or even a trade will loom until he's signed but with both sides motivated to reach a pact, the odds on it not getting done are next to none.

Bogosian missed time last season with an injury and hated it. Holding out is an option but the player will be most reluctant to play this card. A trade is always an option but finding a player of Bogosian's quality who wants to be in Winnipeg and wants to be here long term is nothing for the Jets to take for granted. Moving Bogosian is not an option.

The first and most important question a team asks before tendering an offer-sheet is always, "will they match?" and if the answer is yes the process usually ends before it begins.

Such will be the case where Bogosian, a restricted free agent, is concerned. As much as any number of teams would love to have Bogosian, and he represents a significant upgrade from most in the unrestricted free agent crop this summer, the Jets just simply won't let him go.

The assessment teams make when preparing an attempted RFA raid is determining the value the player brings to the team owning his rights. Is there depth at that position within the organization? Would they be willing to let him walk in order to take the compensation picks?

In the case of Bogosian and the Jets the answers clearly add up to GM Kevin Cheveldayoff matching any offer less than ridiculous.

The Jets have grown to rely on Bogosian over the past two seasons and he consistently draws the toughest matchups. In five-on-five situations, Bogosian has become Winnipeg's most important defenceman. The Jets simply can't let him walk.

In Bogosian's case it's pretty easy to see he's going to require a contract with an average annual value north of $4 million. The Jets will want term from Bogosian and they'll have to pay for that as he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in just two years.

A six-year-deal somewhere north of $24 million seems equitable.

An offer sheet with an annual average value in between $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 would garner compensation of first- and third-round draft picks.

Would the Jets be tempted to let Bogosian leave for two draft picks? Maybe at a different juncture in the team's development but at some point this team needs to begin to live up to its promise. Losing Bogosian for draft picks would only delay the process and the Jets, despite consistently preaching patience, are beginning to show signs they are ready as an organization to demand more.

Evander Kane recently took to Twitter and said it was time to win and Cheveldayoff has yet to announce a contract extension for his head coach Claude Noel.

If Noel is forced to go into the final year of his contract there will be all kinds of messages but paramount among them will be the expectation to reach the post-season now.

Letting Bogosian leave would be entirely contrary to such a goal.

There is also the message sent to the entire NHL by letting a prime asset such as Bogosian be pried away.

Winnipeg is the NHL's smallest market and is far from entrenched as an organization. Yes, owners Mark Chipman and David Thomson combine to give the team the deepest of NHL pockets but the franchise is run as a stand-alone entity. There is no sugar daddy option at work here.

Maybe some club decides to test the Jets to see just how sturdy an outfit they are and if they can loot their pantry. If it happens once, the rest of the league takes notice and soon others come knocking.

The Jets would have to beat back that notion with a quick and firm response.

They would match for both hockey and business reasons.

Bogosian's agent Bob Murray says he has had a few discussions with the Jets regarding his client's next contract. The last time these sides worked on a deal it took all summer and right up to the first week of training camp before something could be ironed out.

Murray is a patient and fair-minded agent with a solid reputation. He doesn't negotiate through the media and there will be no stunts or threats.

Bogosian wants to be in Winnipeg and the Jets want him here. Long term.

This deal will get done when it gets done. But it will get done. Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 19, 2013 D1


Updated on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 7:23 AM CDT: Corrects potential average annual value of Bogosian's contract to north of $4 million.

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


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