Zach Bogosian underwent hip surgery and will be out 5-6 months, according to the Buffalo Sabres. The rugged, 28 yr. old defenseman just finished his 11th season in the NHL and his 65 games he played in last season matched the most he's played since 2011-12. In the seven seasons in between Bogosian has played in 288 of a possible 574 NHL games, or just a hair under 50%.
That's not a good percentage by any stretch of the imagination.
In addition to his 65 games, the 6'3" 225 lb. Bogosian also had a solid 2018-19 campaign with 22 points (3+19) while skating an average of 21:38/game. He anchored the Sabres penalty kill and was also paired with rookie d-man Rasmus Dahlin for large chunks of the season as his mentor. Bogosian had opted for hip surgery in the middle of the 2017-18 season after playing in only 18 games. His recovery went well but he misesed the first five games of 2018-19 and bookended the season by missing the last seven games.
Bogosian was brought on board as part of the trade with the Winnipeg Jets consummated by former GM Tim Murray. The big name Buffalo received from the Jets was winger Evander Kane, who will be headed to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after he and his San Jose Sharks pulled off an incredible series, and Game-7, comeback last night. Kane, and to an extent Bogosian, were looked at as cornerstones for the Sabres to build with after tanking from 2013-15 but it didn't really work out as Kane was traded and there's a possibility that Bogosian, a pending unrestricted free agent, won't be back next season. Along with Ryan O'Reilly (traded) and Robin Lehner (free agency,) should Bogosian leave it will mean the big four of Murray's foundation will all be gone.
The surgery and speculation as to when he returns affects the Sabres d-corps heading into next season. Rumors have been floating around that Rasmus Ristolainen could be traded and not having both to start the season will take away a total of over 46 minutes of ice-time/game that, as for now, would need to be taken up by the likes of Jake McCabe, Marco Scandella, Lawrence Pilut and/or Casey Nelson. Not an ideal scenario for the Sabres moving forward but they do have a long summer to sort things out.
Much to the delight of many in Sabreland, the Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs last night. In a matchup of two of Buffalo's most hated rivals, the Boston Bruins took down the Leafs in seven games to move on to the next round while Leaf Nation was left to ponder a third consecutive first-round exit with the last two coming at the hands of the Bruins.
Toronto head coach Mike Babcock is getting some grief as he stands at the Center of the Hockey Universe having failed to move on in the playoffs even though the Leafs added superstar center John Tavares to their forward arsenal this year. They also shored up their defense corps with the addition of Cup-winning defenseman Jake Muzzin. But in the end it was all for naught.
Babcock faced the music last night amidst "what must have felt like daggers raising from the fists of a city that swore this time things would be different," as Sportsnet's Luke Fox put it. "The optimism was so much higher," continued Fox, "the roster so much deeper walking into (Boston's) TD Garden this time, yet the result was infuriatingly, deflatingly familiar.
"High as it was, the optimism inside the Leafs' walls could never reach the loftiness of the expectations outside."
And with that a surly contingent of fans in Leafs Nation were calling for Babcock's head.
Fox himself brought some of Babcock's deflections to the fore in paragraph-two when he wrote "the coach passively-aggressively blamed goalie Fredrik Andersen four times" while also noting that Babcock drew attention to Nadzim Kadri's another "reckless suspension [that] might have cost them the series."
Such is the pressures when Mount Maple Leaf crumbles in the post-season.
Babcock has now lost in the first round five times in a row and it would seem as if some of the luster is coming off his shiny coaching armor. Is it enough to have the Leafs move on from him? Probably not, and rightfully so but if it happens, there will be a number of teams lined up for his services.
Including the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo is without a coach right now and don't seem to be in a hurry to hire one. Perhaps GM Jason Botterill is waiting for the dust to settle on a crazy first round of the 2019 NHL playoffs, which still has another Game-7 on tap tonight to close out the round. In addition, another prime coaching candidate, Rickard Grönborg is coaching Team Sweden in the 2019 IIHF World Hockey Championships. Grönborg's contract is up at the end of the tournament May 5 and there's a strong belief that he will land a job in the NHL.
If Babcock were available, it's hard to see the Sabres passing on the opportunity to land him, despite him, and Mrs. Babcock, jilting them four years ago to take the Toronto job.