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Jeff Seide The Hockey Writers

Published on Monday, February 24, 2020





Off the Crossbar: Bogosian Set to Win Cup and Conn Smythe with Lightning

Now that defenseman Zach Bogosian has signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, odds are the team will win the Stanley Cup and the blueliner will also take home the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff’s most valuable player.

Bogosian is sure to follow the precedent set by center Ryan O’Reilly who was dealt by the listless Buffalo Sabres to the St. Louis Blues in a multiplayer deal in the summer of 2018. He fell out of love with the game in Buffalo then and quickly married it in St. Louis.

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues Frank J. Selke Stanley Cup Conn Smythe Clarence Campbell
Ryan O’Reilly with the Frank J. Selke Trophy, the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Campbell Conference Trophy at the 2019 NHL Awards. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

O’Reilly joined the Blues and lifted them to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship last season, earning playoff MVP honors.

Bogosian Struggled to Stay on the Ice

The disgruntled Bogosian asked for a trade back in December. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill thought to deal Bogosian before placing him on waivers back on Feb. 14, even offering to retain half of his salary. He was hoping for a seventh rounder or even a straight up deal for David Backes, Milan Lucic or a bevy of other aging players well past their prime. It was baffling no team jumped at the cap-controlled player who couldn’t crack Buffalo’s all-world line-up with mere months left on an albatross of a contract. He was right there for the taking.

Riddled with injuries, the 2008 third overall pick played only 242 games through five seasons for the Sabres. Looking back, it’s clear it was all part of his strategy to milk the team of significant coin before leaving for a contender.

Buffalo Sabres Zach Bogosian
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Bogosian posted 67 points while pocketing more than $28 million, or approximately the amount it would take to get working bathroom faucets inside the confines of KeyBank Center. That kind of offensive output had Botterill’s phone blowing up. Alas, the GM was fearful of trading him, fully aware of the possibility that he’d be fleeced again.

It was demoralizing for Bogosian that he wasn’t traded. He had upgraded his bone structure with multiple hip surgeries in recent years for the chance to jump ship and join a winner. He worked hard at being listed at 6-foot-3 on every shift. He was relentless at being drafted third overall in 2008. The year was a remarkable time in our society: “Low” by Flo Rida was atop the music charts, Britney Spears was being held for psychic evaluation and gas cost less just a quarter per gallon.

Bogosian Demoted to the AHL

With no legitimate offers such as an autographed Erik Cernak jersey or a Brad Marchand-licked faceshield, Botterill assigned Bogosian to the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ AHL affiliate. Rather than drive 80 miles east and completely dominate the league, Bogosian refused to report. It left the Sabres’ brass no choice but to put him out to pasture, voiding the remainder of his contract and ridding them of his expensive contract.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and center Sam Reinhart
Eichel and Reinhart are in sync on a bike. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Jack Eichel, one of Bogosian’s best friends on the team, was especially melancholy when learning of the moves. While the Sabres’ captain never rode a tandem bike with Bogosian, like he did with Samson Reinhart, he will certainly miss him.

At Least It Made Tim Murray Happy

It’s been roughly five years since then-Sabres GM Tim Murray acquired Bogosian from the Winnipeg Jets along with forward Evander Kane and goalie Jason Kasdorf in exchange for defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, two prospects and a first-round draft pick.

Tim Murray
The Sabres are still feeling the affects of Tim Murray’s reckless trades. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Bogosian was slated to log a lot of minutes. He did. In the press box while being injured.

One witness was said to have seen Botterill weeping while saying goodbye to Bogosian. Then again, these days, the GM is always crying as his team is likely watching the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season–the NHL’s longest postseason drought.

Setting Himself Up to Hoist Hardware

Bogosian has been a great player for the Buffalo community. His BOGO Bunch Foundation provides support for families affected by cancer and he supported the Tickets for Troops program. It’s just too bad the day-long, red-hot commodity is paid to play hockey.

Now, after a tumultuous few years with the Sabres, this is destined to be a Cinderella season for Bogosian. While it started slow for the bearded blueliner–he missed the Sabres’ first 22 games recovering from surgery, he then played in 10 straight games–one of the longest stretches of his career being healthy on the ice.

Zach Bogosian Buffalo Sabres
Provided he can stay healthy and the nine defensemen in front of him don’t get injured, Zach Bogosian will be a nice depth piece for the Lightning. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After being scratched once, Bogosian stood up and immediately asked for a trade. Now, a few months later, Bogosian is ready to follow in former teammate Ryan O’Reilly’s skates and win a Stanley Cup while being named playoff MVP. Despite never playing in the postseason, the grizzly blueliner’s beard is playoff ready. He’ll be wrapped in bubble wrap and is set to join the Lightning this week.

*Relax. It’s satire.

Enjoy more ‘Off the Crossbar’ columns.


The post Off the Crossbar: Bogosian Set to Win Cup and Conn Smythe with Lightning appeared first on The Hockey Writers.


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