TAMPA – Zach Bogosian was skating on the sand just over two years ago. In fact, he hardly skated anymore.
Because despite struggling on the ice, the Buffalo Sabers, who had acquired his services from the Winnipeg Jets in the context of a large transaction – Bogosian and Evander Kane took over Buffalo in exchange for picking the first round in 2015 (Jack Roslovic) , defender giant Tyler Myers, Joel Armia, Drew Stafford and Brendan Lemieux – no longer played him. Bogosian suffered the insult of following many games from the press box. Worse, the other 30 teams ignored him when he found himself giving up.
Struggling with numerous injuries that were slowing him down and preventing him from maximizing his potential, Bogosian had become a financial bottleneck due to his salary counting 5,182,857 on Sabers’ payroll.
Third player selected in the 2008 draft, promising a brilliant career that began at the age of 18 with the Atlanta Thrashers led by John Anderson who succeeded Bob Hartley, Bogosian was eventually removed from the Sabers’ locker rooms by then manager Ralph Krueger and former manager General Jason Botterill who summoned him to join the Rochester Farm Club.
What Bogosian refused to do.
This decision could have ended his career. Quite the opposite has happened as his showdown with running the Sabers served as a stepping stone to better days.
The veteran defender who had never made the playoffs in his career found himself in Tampa and won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2020. He could raise the cup again in a few days.
Excellent cost-benefit ratio
Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois took advantage of the complete autonomy Bogosian gained once he was fired from the Sabers on February 22, 2020 to woo the veteran defender.
BriseBois would never have been able to acquire Bogosian and his salary below the ceiling of over $ 5.1 million. But because he was free as air and because he wanted to prove to himself and the entire hockey world that he was not the finished defender described by the Sabers leadership, Bogosian accepted, two days after his dismissal, the parameters of a $ 1.3 million contract to complete the 2019-2020 season with Lightning.
Bogosian had left such an impression in the locker room two years ago that Julien BriseBois offered him a three-year deal last summer to bring him back to his team’s blue line at the end of his Toronto season.
At $ 850,000 per year, Bogosian offers excellent value for money for lightning. It evolves within the third duo. He regularly plays with Mikhail Sergachev who has taken him under his wing. From the 17 minutes and 40 seconds he was in the playoffs two years ago, his average usage time has dropped to 12 minutes and 25 seconds this year. But Bogosian provides quality minutes for his bosses and he is a loved and respected player in the locker room.
Respect and winning culture
It is this respect for him that explains Bogosian’s return to form and strength two years ago. Which also explains the fact that he has maintained a level of performance far beyond what he has offered the Sabers in his six seasons at Buffalo.
“Things were very difficult there. The team was losing a lot. There was no winning culture within this organization. In addition, I have often been injured and have had personal problems that were far from helping my cause, ”explained the veteran crusader defender last Tuesday in Denver, during the big media day that kicked off the final.
“I played great resisting my old team. But I was well surrounded by my family who supported me in this decision. And as soon as I arrived in Tampa, I found myself in a completely opposite context to the one I was immersed in before. The players are a family in Tampa. We are all pushing in the same direction. We are demanding for ourselves and for us teammates. We do not hesitate to ask for corrections when necessary, but it is done with respect and harmony. When I arrived I felt welcomed. I was told to forget the past and think about what I could offer now to my new club, my new teammates, “said Bogosian.
Although he has courted Zach Bogosian twice rather than once to add him to his lineup, although it was he and his staff who offered him the springboard to revive his career, Julien BriseBois ensures that all the credit goes to the veteran defender.
“Zach fits in very well with what we had to offer him as a role. He brings a lot of experience, a lot of leadership. He does multiple defensive missions with us. He is very different from what he had as a mission at the beginning of his career and also fits better with what he has to offer at this point in his career. But all the credit goes to him. Not only has he accepted this new role and has multiplied his efforts to make sure he fulfills well with us, “explained Julien BriseBois.
In 19 playoff games to date, Zach Bogosian has delivered three assists. One less than four in 20 games two years ago during his first Stanley Cup conquest with the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
In the 2008 draft, Bogosian was selected right after his Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings star defender Drew Doughty. Several excellent defenders then stood out in the first and also in the second round: Alex Pietrangelo, immediately after Bogosian, Erik Karlsson in 15And grade, John Carlson at 27And and Roman Josi that the Nashville Predators acquired early in the second round with the 38And selection.