March 30, 2012; Raleigh, NC, USA; Winnipeg Jets defensemen Zach Bogosian (4) against the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC center. The Jets defeated the Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE
Scott Brown announced yesterday that Zach Bogosian was diagnosed with a ligament tear recently during his off-season training. While some minor wrist surgeries can take 4-6 weeks to heal, it was noted that Bogosian's is a chronic ligament tear which generally takes 3-6 months to be as good as new. In short, we could not see the return of Bogosian until as early as December or as late as March. That's the bad news; the good news is the injury rarely reoccurs post-surgery.
What Kind of Hole Does the Absence of Bogosian Create?
Let's look at where Bogosian falls relative to other NHL defensemen with 30+ games, a positive CorsiRelQOC and 50% or less offensive zone starts. All numbers are 5 on 5:
Eighty defensemen made the list, many of which are big names, including the Webers, Charas and Bieksas of the world. A 21 year old to putting up big points without overly offensive minutes is pretty impressive. Some may point out his point point totals relied heavily relied on secondary assists, but I would like to note that his OnIceSh% clocked in below average.
The largest hole created by the loss of Bogosian will come on the penalty kill. Bogo led the Jets defence with an average of 2.85 TOI/60 and faced the second hardest CorsiRelQoC. While he didn't end up doing very well CorsiOn and CorsiRel, I would personally put most of the blame on forwards. A PK is only as strong as it's weakest link and our busiest penalty killing forward Jim Slater (paired with another member of GST) was terribly ineffective on the PK.
The last major issue I see created by this injury comes is the lack of right-shooting defender depth. Currently the team system depth goes: Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma, Zach Redmond, Jacob Trouba (who is years away). After Bogosian there is a steep drop in experience and the ability to eat tough minutes.
Filling the Holes In-House
As Bogosian's pairing partner, Ron Hainsey has been taking on similar assignments; this leaves Stuart, Clitsome, Postma, Meech and Redmond to fill remaining bottom 3 spots. Many fans praise Stuart's defensive abilities but the legitimacy of such claims (and his effectiveness in top minutes) has been questioned many times at AIH. I remain hopeful that Clitsome can eventually become an effective all-minutes-defenseman under Charlie Huddy, but he has yet to prove that he can come out on top when taking tough assignments.
Now, lets look at the youngsters. Paul Postma has always been praised for strong offensive abilities but long been questioned defensively, even in the AHL. Redmond would probably get Ben's vote, but - similarly to Postma - he is yet to be a proven NHL defensemen, let alone proven for tough minutes. To be honest, I don't know much about Meech. I think he would of won over Randy Jones or Mark Flood last season if it weren't for his major injury and that he has had difficulty keeping a full time NHL gig. This really makes me miss Arturs Kulda.
Well That Looks Bleak; What then?
Looking at the picked over free-agency pool and the lack of proven ability in the Jets system, I see the best stop-game options being found via trade or a waiver pickup. While this is not optimal, options appear to be limited.
My personal preference would be to trade for a young, promising defenseman with some decent NHL experience. While it would costly and it would be unlikely that any fill-in could compete at Bogosian's level, the team could use a long term, tough minute, replacement for Hainsey. If the Jets can find a player that won't drown in tough minutes and can handle PK assignments it would be a win.
Ideally this defenseman would still be on his ELC which would make him a cost effective stop-gap as well. What would this trade cost? The Jets would probably have to give up a prospect like Cormier, Redmond, or Klingberg and a decent pick or two. Eventual bottom of the roster prospects are high in quantity within the Jet's system, so moving one to net a long term defensive option would be a plus.
A waiver wire pickup is more likely but less optimal. If TN was to sign a defensman like this, he would most likely be of Ran_y Jones quality, and we all know how that ended up.