One of the more forgotten players on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster is defenseman Zach Bogosian.
After leaving the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the 2020-21 season, he returned to the team in July 2021. His contract was somewhat unusual, spanning three years at $850K per season, and included a no-trade clause that has since become a modified NTC (21 team no trade list). It’s rare in today’s NHL for players to sign multi-year contracts with a cap hit under $1M and a no-trade clause.
The upcoming 2023-24 season marks the final year of Bogosian’s contract and may also be his last as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. As he enters his mid-30s, Bogosian’s offensive contributions from the blue line have been minimal, and he has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons. He even missed the first month of the 2022-23 season due to an injury sustained during the 2022 playoffs.
Bogosian finds himself in a precarious position. While he is not one of Tampa Bay’s top defenders, demoting him to Syracuse doesn’t seem like a logical move either. Although the team could place him on waivers since he lacks a no-movement clause, it’s uncertain if the club would want to treat one of their veteran players in that manner.
Similar to what happened with Pat Maroon, it might be beneficial to trade Zach Bogosian before the regular season begins. There have been rumors of the team exploring trade options this summer. Despite his low-cap hit, Tampa Bay would not achieve any significant financial gains by moving him (since they would need to replace his roster spot anyway), but his trade value isn’t terrible. With just one year left on his contract at $850K, he is an affordable option for almost every NHL team. That means the Lightning might not need to attach much else, if anything at all, in order to move him. The only potential obstacle to a trade is Bogosian’s 21-team no-trade list, which limits the trade destinations to ten possible teams for General Manager Julien BriseBois
Should Bogosian remain with the Lightning for this season, his role on the team becomes uncertain. While he will likely serve as a depth defenseman, the true answer is more complex. Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak and Nick Perbix are the only locks to have everyday roles on the blue line, barring any injuries. This means Bogosian will have to compete with the likes of Philippe Myers, Darren Raddysh, Haydn Fleury and Calvin De Haan for the remaining three roster spots (assuming the team carries seven defensemen). Five players vying for three spots create intense competition. Will Bogosian fail to make the team and be demoted to the AHL or traded early in the season? Or will he secure a roster spot and potentially find himself higher up on the depth chart on game days?
Given the financial considerations and his underwhelming quality of play, it is likely that Philippe Myers will be sent down to Syracuse once again, as that would result in the most significant cost savings among the five players. In my opinion, Darren Raddysh performed well enough to earn a roster spot for the start of this season. This leaves three players competing for two spots. Considering Jon Cooper’s tendency to dress seven defensemen during games, it’s conceivable that the team might opt to carry eight defensemen instead of the standard seven.
Bogosian had an underwhelming 2022-23 regular season. According to Money Puck, he ranked seventh out of eight defenders (with at least 200 minutes) in terms of on-ice shot attempt % (Corsi), with a mere 50%. Victor Hedman was his most frequent partner during the regular season, while the now-departed Ian Cole was his primary defensive partner in the playoffs. Despite his subpar regular season performance, Bogosian’s advanced statistics were surprisingly solid in the playoffs, boasting an impressive 67% on-ice shot attempt % (Corsi), the highest among all Tampa Bay Lightning defenders, per Money Puck.
The specifics of Zach Bogosian’s situation for this season remain uncertain, but one thing is clear—it’s a somewhat complicated scenario. He could pleasantly surprise during training camp and once again secure a role as Victor Hedman’s defensive partner. On the other hand, he could find himself relegated to the AHL or even traded. His fate will depend on his performance during training camp and preseason, as well as the performances of other depth defensemen like Philippe Myers, Darren Raddysh, Haydn Fleury, and Calvin De Haan.