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Is There Room For Zach Bogosian In Rochester?

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Where would the veteran defenseman fit into a loaded Amerks blueline?

Buffalo Sabres v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Now that Zach Bogosian has cleared waivers and been assigned to the Rochester Americans, its time to ask the question: is there even room for him on the Amerks blueline? This is all speculative of course, because we don’t yet know whether Bogosian will accept his AHL assignment, and if he does, what the Amerks coaching staff would do with him.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume Bogosian accepts the assignment and joins the Amerks this weekend. They are in Syracuse tonight for a 7pm start and return home for an important Sunday matinee against Utica, a team that they are currently trailing in the standings. Lance Lysowski reports that Bogosian is not expected to join Rochester for tonight’s game.

Where Would He Fit?

If he does join the team, he’ll find himself on a blueline that is already loaded with talent among both prospects and veterans.

Jacob Bryson and Will Borgen share the team lead with 49 of 50 games played for the Amerks this season, followed by Zach Redmond and Casey Nelson, with 47 and 44 games respectively. Those four are clear mainstays for the Amerks this season and I don’t see any scenario in which any of them are removed from the lineup in exchange for Bogosian; Nelson in particular has been the team’s best overall defenseman this season and Bryson has excelled in his rookie year.

This presents a problem because Redmond, Nelson, and Borgen are all right-shot defensemen, as is Bogosian. While it’s certainly possible that Bogosian could switch to the left side in Rochester, it doesn’t seem likely, nor do I see Redmond, Nelson, or Borgen switching to the left side either. Keep in mind, any position switch would essentially be a permanent for the remainder of the season - because if Bogosian does go to Rochester, with a $4 million+ salary in the AHL, he should probably be playing in every game.

Veteran Limit

The other factor at play is the AHL’s veteran limit:

Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a game, at least 13 must be qualified as “development players.” Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season.

Redmond is the only veteran right-shot defenseman currently on the roster, and Bogosian would be the second. Adding him to any game would require removing another veteran from somewhere else in the lineup. The most likely spot would be to sit Andrew MacWilliam from the left side and insert a left-shot defensive prospect in his place, likely Brandon Hickey (using the term prospect loosely in this case). They could also choose to sit a veteran forward and play defensive prospect Casey Fitzgerald at right-wing, something they have done for numerous games this season as the team has dealt with significant issues at forward due to injuries, NHL recalls, and the veteran limit.

The Amerks aren’t playing great hockey right now. The 12-game points streak during November of 2019 is a long forgotten memory and the team is now riding a rollercoaster of streaks. In the last 17 games, they lost seven straight, won six straight, and have lost the last four straight. A roster shakeup could be worth a try - and with the NHL trade deadline barely a week away, the entire roster could look significantly different very soon.

Other Considerations

  • One of Bogosian’s biggest deficiencies in the NHL is his lack of speed. Overall, the AHL plays a noticeably slower brand of hockey that could be more suitable for his skillset.
  • Bogosian is historically a well-liked teammate and he would be the perfect mentor for younger players, particularly defensemen like Borgen, Bryson, and Fitzgerald.
  • He would join a lot of familiar faces already in Rochester - including guys he’s played with in Buffalo such as Casey Mittelstadt, Lawrence Pilut, Rasmus Asplund, and Scott Wilson, and Nelson - so despite the demotion, he might not feel too much like an outsider in the locker room.

We’ll likely find out within the next 24 hours what the future holds for Zach Bogosian, so stay tuned.