Paying for potential: Winnipeg inks Zach Bogosian to 2-year deal

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"I haven't exactly had the greatest start to my career... but I'm still young and up to learning new things."


That was 21-year-old Zach Bogosian earlier this week, talking about the No. 2 pick (Drew Doughty) and No. 5 pick (Luke Schenn) in the 2008 NHL draft and how their accomplishments compare to the No. 3 pick, Zach Bogosian.

Doughty's a Norris-nominated defenseman. Schenn is considered a burgeoning shutdown guy.

But what is Zach Bogosian? Unfulfilled potential.

On Wednesday, the Winnipeg Jets put a price tag on that potential: two years, $5 million, for a $2.5 million cap hit. The delay in the restricted free agent's signing appears to have been salary rather than term, and he'll be paid $2 million in 2011-12 and $3 million in 2012-13.

He's coming off a season where his points (17) hit a professional low and his plus/minus (minus-27) was in line with the defensive struggles of the Atlanta Thrashers (minus-46 as a team) — all while his ice time increased by a minute per game (22:24 last season).

Kent Wilson of Jets Nation had an interesting piece earlier this summer about Bogosian's development that dove behind the numbers:

The truth is, the kid has been playing the toughest minutes available for the club over the last two years, which is the main reason his numbers stink. No blueliner faced a tougher quality of competition for the Thrashers last season. Bogosian's offensive-to-defensive zone start ratio was the second most difficult on the club (47.9%) behind Oduya. Only Dustin Byfuglien averaged more ice time than Bogosian for the Thrash at ES and Bogosian was second the blueline in terms of average SH ice time.

On the other hand, Bogosian was relegated to a lesser power-play role (1:58/game) with Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom soaking up almost all of the ice time on the extra man most nights (4:02 and 4:32, respectively).

So while he hasn't blossomed into the dynamic two-way defenseman he was projected to be back in 2008, let's not portray Bogosian as the Kyle Turris of the blue line, begging for compensation he hasn't come close to earning in the NHL.

That said: Doughty's eventual deal with the Kings will more than double Bogosian's cap hit. That speaks volumes about their maturation as NHL players.

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