Not only is Jets defenseman and current RFA Zach Bogosian excited and ready to play in Winnipeg, he is also one of the best young defensemen in the NHL today.
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press likened Bogosian to LA Kings star Drew Doughty and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Luke Schenn, who are also both in contract negotiations with their teams without any arbitration rights.
However, Lawless points out the main difference being: "The other two blue-liners is they have already declared with their play what can be expected of them in the future." (Winnipeg Free Press, 8/10/11)
At 6'3", 205 pounds, Bogosian has tremendous upside and talent. The problem is he hasn't shown it as much as Doughty or Schenn. That may be in part to playing three seasons in Atlanta with two different coaches and possibly not getting his feet under him properly. Looking at Doughty and Schenn, they both have not endured coaching changes and have been entrusted with being a go-to defenseman on their respective teams.
In 2010-11, Bogosian ranked third in ice time among Atlanta Thrashers defensemen, collecting five goals and 12 assists in 71 games. He was a minus 27 on a Thrashers team that was in the playoff race for much of the season.
The Jets can sign Bogosian to a one-year deal to see what his worth and if he can produce Doughty or Schenn-like numbers at 21.
Or the Jets can take a chance and sign him to a long-term deal and hope he pans out.
But with the demeanor of Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, a short-term deal will likely be in order for the former third overall pick in 2008. Fellow defensemen Doughty was picked 2nd overall, Alex Pietrangelo 4th overall, and Luke Schenn 5th overall.
He was also followed by Tyler Myers at 12th overall, Michael del Zotto at 20th overall, and John Carlson at 27th overall, Bogosian's stock could garner him a big paycheck if he can get his play up to that of his peers.
Myers, Carlson, del Zotto, and Pietrangelo—all in the last years of their entry-level contracts—could cash in and it could be a good indicator of Bogosian's contract if he signs a one year deal.
Then again, Doughty's and Schenn's deals this summer could also indicate how Bogosian's contract would play out this summer if he were to be signed long-term.
Whether or not the contract is signed as of now or not, Bogosian has expressed excitement over playing in the Manitoban capital.
On playing in Winnipeg, Bogosian told the Winnipeg Sun's Kirk Penton, “Sometimes (it was tough in Atlanta), especially when you played against teams like Toronto or Pittsburgh,”
“They had more fans in the stands than we did. It was tough, but you have to know it’s your job to go out there and give it your best," he added.
“Any time you get a crowd behind you it helps you out so much. When you come out and the place is packed it’s like having an extra player out there. It gives you that much more momentum and enthusiasm to play.”