Zach Bogosian will have his 24th birthday this upcoming July 15th. Hopefully by that point he’ll be in the mood to party. The Winnipeg Jets have been officially eliminated from the NHL Playoffs and once again fans here in the Peg are left to speculate on a few things – the biggest being what changes will be made heading in to next year. That said, there will be lots of time to discuss potential changes this summer. The Jets have been without defenceman Zach Bogosian off and on all season and with only four games left I had been wondering if it’s worth playing him at all, or if we should shelf him for the remainder of the season.
Right off the hop, I know there will be people saying he’s a pro and he should play. I totally agree with that statement. These guys get paid millions of dollars and if they’re healthy they should be in the line-up. Especially considering that any injured player is getting paid a legitimate NHL Salary. Touching on that, Bogosian was the only Jet during the last lockout to receive a full NHL Salary for the year because he spent the time on the Injured Reserve (and he would have with or without an NHL Season).
Bogosian has only played in 55 games to date this year. He’s picked up only 11 points on the year, with 3 goals and 8 assists (his lowest NHL career totals including the lock out shortened season in which he amassed 14 points in only 33 games). He has managed to stay at a +3 rating which I can appreciate, although I do feel as though Coach Maurice deserves some credit there. The point I’m trying to illustrate here is that even though Bogosian has been injured more than anyone would like this season, he hasn’t been playing up to his potential when he has in fact been in the line-up. Maybe that’s a result of playing hurt, but the results are the only thing that matters and he hasn’t produced in what has no doubt been his worst NHL campaign.
The adverse to this discussion is what I was briefly touching a moment ago, maybe Zach hasn’t played well this season in large part due to the injuries he sustained over the course of the year. He’s an integral part of this team’s future moving forward and it’s more important to have him healthy coming in to next season – sit him for the remainder of the year. I do think there is some merit here as well. You never want to put any of your superstars through any un-necessary turmoil and wear and tear on their bodies for games that don’t matter. These last four games could be compared to pre-season games in more ways than one. But do we not play him on that alone?
What I should point out is that Bogosian isn’t at superstar status (although I recognize he absolutely is a top 4 defenceman) on any other team and he’s only 24 years of age. He’s young and he has a full offseason to recover. He has already missed a pile of games and by season’s end he’ll have missed a full quarter of the Jets regular season. With Trouba now prevalent, Stuart getting an extension, Morrissey coming up through the ranks, and other guys like Clitsome, Ellerby, Enstrom, Redmond, Pardy and Postma on our roster as well - should we not be evaluating everyone to potentially address other concerns? This team has a great young core, specifically on back end and to me – Trouba and Stuart are the only ones who have “earned” their spots moving into next season.
This team needs to start progressing. We know that it’s highly unlikely that Cheveldayoff will make any major changes to this roster. So with that said we need the current roster to step up and play like a team that can win. The Jets did have a rough go with injuries all over the board this season but as a fan I’m tired of coming up with a list of excuses around this time of year, as we all are. If they don’t start winning soon, and with Chevy on his second coach – this time next year it could be our GM on the hot seat.
At this point in time I don’t think Zach Bogosian has earned any time off. We need him to rise and be the defenceman he can be. In the coming years, even now – he’s expected to be a leader of this team. I’ll be watching him closely in the last four (if he does play). These last four games might be meaningless in regards to this season but all of us fans are already assessing for next year. The hope is that management is doing the same.