Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Building the 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres roster--D, Zach Bogosian

Published by hockeybuzz.com, 9-11-2017

Zach Bogosian
27 yrs. old
6'3" 228 lbs.
2008, 3rd-overall (ATL)
Acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets February 11, 2015

Career stats:  534 games  |  49 goals  |  120 assists  |  169 points  |  -73

Defenseman Zach Bogosian came to Buffalo as part of the Tyler Myers/Evander Kane deal back in February, 2015. Because of injuries he's played in 141 of a possible 201 games for the Sabres over the course of those two-and-a-half seasons, which is fairly typical of the way things have gone for the hard-nosed defenseman over the course of his career.

Bogosian got off to a tepid start in Buffalo after the trade with former head coach Ted Nolan skating him over 26 minutes/game. The following season with a new coach in Dan Bylsma, Bogosian settled in on the second-pairing with rookie Jake McCabe and at times were the best pairing on the ice. The duo had brain-farts on an individual basis but as a duo they performed pretty consistently with McCabe leading the team in plus-minus with a plus-6.

Last year didn't go as well for Bogosian as put up abysmal numbers in another injury-shortened season scoring a career-low two goals and equaling a career-low in points with 11. He missed 26 games while suffering knee and rib injuries and it took a while for him to get up to game-speed. Although Bogosian is only 27 yrs. old, his rambunctious play over the course of 534 NHL games is beginning to take it's toll and he still has a skill-set that can be put to good use.

Bogosian skates extremely well for a 6'3" 228 lb. defenseman and he's got a heavy shot ta boot. Last season he got up ice and blasted this one past perennial Vezina candidate Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens (1:10-minute mark):

(Thank you, Sportsnet)

Things were amiss in Buffalo last season and we're still not sure exactly what caused the team to take a step backwards. Owner Terry Pegula wasn't satisfied with what transpired and he fired both GM Tim Murray, who orchestrated the trade for Kane and Bogosian, and coachBylsma on the same day. Little by little we're getting a picture of a team that, among other things, was in disarray in part because a clash between coaching style and players.

A lot of the blame for last year's woes fell on what was considered an inadequate, at best, defense corps and although that may be true to an extent, goalie Robin Lehner said that the problem last season was that "we didn't know how to play" while also saying "it was a common misconception" that the defense was the problem. Jack Eichel talked about new head coach Phil Housley wanting to play an up-tempo game that's right in his wheelhouse. "Obviously, pushing the pace, playing with the puck, possessing it, playing fast, all that stuff bodes well for me, and I think it should be a good fit," he said after a recent workout.

And Bogosian called the last two years under Bylsma, "frustrating and disappointing." He told WGR550's Paul Hamilton that "skating is definitely my strong point."

"Last year and the year before I felt like I was handcuffed back there," said Bogosian. "I don't think I got a chance to play my game in the way I know I can play and I'm just looking forward to a new start and play my game which is jumping up into the play.”

He should get the opportunity to "play his game" this season under Housley. The first time head coach was an assistant in Nashville last season and his defense-corps were the most dangerous group in the playoffs. However, regardless of what Housley may or may not be able to do with the d-men as a group, it's up to Bogosian to pick up his game. Coming off of possibly his worst season ever and with three years left on his contract at a $5.143 cap-hit, the Sabres are pretty much stuck with him and an "injury-prone" tag doesn't help matters either.

With a good training camp and, of course, barring injury, Bogosian should get the opportunity to use his skating and skill in a top-four role. The Sabres will have three new faces on defense including a 24 yr. old rookie coming over from Russia and a 24 yr. old who fell down the depth chart and into the press box in Montreal last season.

Either of those two may end up supplanting Bogosian if he falters or is injured, but having two d-men who are familiar with each other like Bogosian and McCabe are, at least to start the season, should help the transition under a new head coach.

Building the 2017-18 Buffalo Sabres roster:

LW, Evander Kane / C, Jack Eichel / RW, Sam Reinhart
LW, Benoit Pouliot / C, Ryan O'Reilly / RW, Kyle Okposo

D, Marco Scandella / D, Rasmus Ristolainen
D, Jake McCabe / D, Zach Bogosian

G, Robin Lehner

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