The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed veteran defenseman Zach Bogosian to a one-year, $1 million contract.
Bogosian, 30, was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres back in February, but he went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was the third overall pick back in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, taken one spot before Alex Pietrangelo. A brawny 6’3″ defenseman who plays a heavy style, he will bring some leadership and physicality to the Leafs‘ back-end.
With Travis Dermott and Mikko Lehtonen on the roster, Bogosian could end up being Toronto’s seventh defenseman. Both Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin are likely to start with the Marlies, and it doesn’t make sense to have them sitting in the press box as the seventh defenseman. Martin Marincin or Calle Rosen could have done the job, but Bogosian fits better as a right shot and fits the Leafs desire to play heavier hockey.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Bogosian becomes a regular. He looked surprisingly effective during Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup run, and it sure seems like the Leafs want some size in their lineup. I would load him up with defensive zone starts when he is in the lineup; he could be a stay-at-home partner for either Morgan Rielly or Jake Muzzin. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some 11F-7D lineups some nights, as Lehtonen could play more minutes if the Leafs are losing and Bogosian could get more ice time when the Leafs are defending a lead.
Looking at Bogosian’s RAPM impacts over the last three seasons, he looks like a respectable player. He hasn’t crushed his team at 5-on-5, and his impacts are pretty darn close to league average. I’m sure if you look at a bunch of offensive statistics you’ll be a bit disappointed, but the Leafs know what they’re getting here: a physical stay-at-home type to pair with their offensive defensemen.
I’ll be honest: I did not want to sign Zach Bogosian when he was bought out by Buffalo back in February. The Tampa Bay Lightning changed my perspective on this a bit, as they made it work with Bogosian, just like they made it work with Dan Girardi the year before. I have a theory that stay-at-home defensemen often get crushed when they play on poor teams: Their team is always playing defense, and they don’t have the skill or talent to generate more offensive zone time other than by just playing good defense.
I play hockey with someone who is big, strong, and good defensively, but he doesn’t have any offensive skill. When there’s enough skill with him, he’s a great player who takes away high-danger scoring chances very well. When there’s not, he’s still a good defender, but he can’t stop his team from getting their teeth kicked in; he can only make simple passes and rely on his teammates to generate the chances and offensive zone time. I think Zach Bogosian carries that same skillset.
My only concern with signing Bogosian is if both Travis Dermott and Mikko Lehtonen look great, but Sheldon Keefe still plays Bogosian over them. I’m a big believer in Dermott, and I think he should be playing every night. Lehtonen is off to a great start in the KHL, but he’s a huge mystery box at this point, and Bogosian could be a good insurance policy. If Sheldon Keefe assured me that he would scratch Bogosian if he struggles, I would say that I like this signing, as there’s limited risk in signing a player who makes less than the what you can bury penalty-free in the AHL.
Ultimately, the Leafs got another big and heavy player who helps change the look of the team as they hope Wayne Simmonds will up front. If he’s playing major minutes or taking good players out of the lineup, I will obviously have concerns. However, after watching the Tampa Bay Lightning over this playoff run, I think there’s a chance that Bogosian ends up being a good fit.
Zach Bogosian Scouting Report
via Gus Katsaros of McKeen’s Hockey
Strapping workhorse has emerged as an injury-prone puck moving blueliner with subtle skill and mobility .. good in transition and supporting offensive rushes .. can even spearhead rushes with good puckhandling skills .. can be wary of overplaying the puck .. overcame a a 39-game absence due to hip surgery .. missed the last eight games of the season with a lower body injury – the same way he began the season, missing the first five games .. becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season – which can potentially make him a trade target if he can maintain his health .. his 65 games were the most in nine seasons, and 16 points were the most since the same span .. playing a support role for rookie Rasmus Dahlin.
Zach Bogosian Advanced Statistics: A3Z, SKATR Solo
Zach Bogosian Statistics
|2009-10||Atlanta Thrashers “A”||NHL||81||10||13||23||61||-18|||||-|
|2017-18||Buffalo Sabres “A”||NHL||18||0||1||1||20||-9|||||-|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||8||0||2||2||12||0|||||Playoffs||20||0||4||4||12||1|