Zach Bogosian's been a loyal soldier for the Sabres for two and a half seasons, but being exposed for the expansion draft showed that he's not considered part of the team's future core. The hulking but oft-injured defenseman played just 56 games last season, scoring just 11 points with a minus-17 rating while seeing his average ice time (20:05) dip to its lowest level since his rookie year. With Buffalo having added some younger bodies to the blue line, Bogosian risks getting further marginalized. He's a veteran who can provide a steady presence in all situations, but his inability to stay healthy has been a career-long problem, and it will limit his production even if the Sabres take a step forward as a team.
Bogosian is excited to begin the season under a new coach that encourages defensemen to jump up on offense for a five-man attack, the Olean Times Herald reports. Bogosian is coming off a season in which he scored a career-low 11 points in 56 games. His 20:05 TOI per game was also the lowest since his rookie season, and even though he's been leapfrogged by Rasmus Ristolainen on the depth chart, he's slated to play a top-four role this coming season. The hulking defenseman has a big shot and good skating ability, neither of which was on display last season due to injuries and poor production. New head coach Phil Housley played a significant role in shaping Nashville's vaunted defense during his time there, and Buffalo is hoping Housley can replicate his success after beefing up the defensive corps over the summer. Bogosian can benefit a lot from Housley's tutelage, but he remains off the fantasy radar until he can get his career back on track.
The Sabres have opted not to protect Bogosian for the expansion draft. The move is somewhat curious, as Bogosian has been one of Buffalo's more reliable veteran defensemen during his two-and-half seasons there, averaging over 20 minutes per game. The Sabres are already quite weak on the blue line, but it seems as though new general manager Jason Botterill may have other plans in the works, as veteran teammate Josh Gorges was also left unprotected. Bogosian has three years remaining with a $5.14 million cap hit on his contract, and has never managed to play a full 82-game season, appearing in just 64 and 56 games over the past two seasons. Although Buffalo has made it clear that its top three are Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe and the newly acquired Nathan Beaulieu, should Bogosian return he'll likely play a top-four role. If Vegas takes Bogosian, it gives the new franchise a two-way, right-hand shot defenseman that has experience playing on both the power play and penalty kill. Even if Bogosian doesn't get taken in the expansion draft, there's still a possibility he gets moved in a separate deal.
Bogosian was a workhorse in Wednesday's loss against Pittsburgh, logging 33:29 after Rasmus Ristolainen was ejected in the first period. Should Ristolainen face supplemental discipline, we now know whom head coach Dan Bylsma will lean on. Josh Gorges and Jake McCabe both skated over 20 minutes, but also around 10 minutes less than Bogosian, who finished with two hits and five blocked shots. The oft-injured defenseman has appeared in just 48 games this season, scoring eight points with a minus-19 rating, so there's minimal fantasy value to be had here. With the Sabres often going with a four-forward power play, Bogosian is averaging just seven seconds of man-advantage time this season -- by far the lowest mark of his career.
Bogosian (abdomen) will be in the lineup for Tuesday's divisional clash with Ottawa. After participating in Monday's practice and declaring his desire to return, Bogosian will get his wish. The defender will likely skate on Buffalo's third pairing, as the team tries to ease him back into action. The former third-overall pick has had a brutal season between injuries and poor play, recording just five points and a minus-13 rating in 30 games. However, Bogosian's most disappointing statistic may be his paltry 38 shots on goal in 2016-17, indicating that he is losing some of the lateral mobility that is crucial for getting shots off as a defenseman.
Bogosian (abdomen) told reporters he was ready to play, but has yet to officially been cleared to suit up against the Senators on Tuesday, John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports. Bogosian has missed Buffalo's previous six outing while dealing with this ailment. The center did participate in practice Monday, which would be a good indicator he is nearing a return. The Sabres will need to activate the 26-year-old off injured reserve prior to puck-drop in Ottawa and could opt to place Cody Franson on IR in order to make room on the 23-man roster.
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