Few things are more scary than the idea of looking at Zach Bogosian’s numbers. Zach Bogosian wasn’t brought in for his numbers. He was brought in to be an affordable tank. An unmovable force in front of the Leafs net. He’s here to satisfy our desire for punishing hits at the cost reasonable outlet passes. Bogosian is here to make us nostalgic for “to the line but not out” but also to put on a shot blocking clinic. At least that’s what we’ve been told. Maybe he’s more than that. Let’s take a look.

An overview

So, those hits weren’t as significant as advertised. Bogosian averaged just over a hit per game last season, with 30 hits in 27 games, playing around 17 minutes a night. His shot blocks were also right at the 1 per game level, with 27 during the regular season. In the playoffs, Bogosian upped his hitting with 44 hits in 20 games, but was still just at 19 blocked shots. He had increased playing time with 17:40 minutes averaged per night.

Interestingly enough, Bogosian might have been better statistically in the playoffs, as his 59.3% CF% at even strength was the highest of the Lightning defensemen.

Time On Ice

With Team TOI With CA/60 CF% With xGA/60 xGF% With Bogosian xGF% Without xGF% Without Bogosian
Jake McCabe BUF 67.93 49.46 50.00 2.21 40.79 39.24 60.90
Braydon Coburn T.B 59.85 50.13 53.70 1.68 59.55 33.08 52.29
Brandon Montour BUF 53.72 77.07 29.59 3.43 28.62 46.85 51.74
Rasmus Dahlin BUF 50.18 57.39 46.07 2.26 43.55 39.18 51.21
Colin Miller BUF 47.00 47.23 47.89 1.72 53.36 46.74 42.88
Marco Scandella BUF 28.07 66.27 51.56 3.17 50.55 40.27 57.35
Mikhail Sergachev T.B 24.12 52.25 43.24 2.32 28.10 56.27 52.79
Luke Schenn T.B 11.40 52.63 54.55 3.04 45.89 57.94 76.51
Rasmus Ristolainen BUF 10.53 79.75 30.00 4.68 18.31 44.16 51.38
Henri Jokiharju BUF 10.20 29.41 70.59 1.65 65.02 41.88 50.72
Lawrence Pilut BUF 8.27 21.77 62.50 2.18 38.85 38.57 31.03
Kevin Shattenkirk T.B 4.08 29.39 50.00 2.24 6.58 52.09 60.04
Victor Hedman T.B 3.28 36.55 50.00 3.37 18.46 48.51 46.60
Ryan McDonagh T.B 1.67 36.00 66.67 0.29 95.25 55.93 40.57
Erik Cernak T.B 1.55 77.42 33.33 0.00 100.00 50.97 39.47

The regular season saw Bogosian without much in the way of regular defensive partners. McCabe, Montour, Dahlin, and Miller all saw significant time with Bogosian in Buffalo, with Dahlin unsurprisingly yielding the best results.

In Tampa it was much more of a consistent partnership between Coburn and Bogosian, although Zach did see some time with Sergachev as well. Bogosian’s numbers were significantly better with Coburn, likely due to the heavy sheltering that pairing would receive.

The playoffs were a much different story, and it was rare for Bogosian to be on the ice without either Hedman or McDonagh. Between the two of them, Bogosian would log 269 minutes of icetime, the next most frequent partner was Sergachev with 31 minutes, and only 16 minutes were played with Coburn, who was his primary regular season partner, although this is largely due to Coburn being limited to three games in the playoffs.

% of Time against Level of Competition
Comp Lvl BUF TBL
Elite 32.5 31.95
Middle 33 39.82
Gritensity 34.5 30.93

It’s probably not too surprising that in the regular season, Bogosian wasn’t being overly matched against top competition, but he also wasn’t being overly sheltered away from anyone either. The Lightning seemed to keep Bogosian away from the Elites more often, but when you have Hedman and McDonagh as options, you are going to try to have one of them against top lines as much as possible. Buffalo couldn’t have been more balanced, though again, that really speaks to the state of the Sabres as well.

In Buffalo, Bogosian’s most favourable CF% came against the Gritensity players (49%), while in Tampa his most favourable numbers came against the Elites (52.7%).

As for the special teams usage of Bogosian, he averaged around 2 minutes per game of the penalty kill last season. That could increase with the Leafs, as Muzzin, Holl will take the lead, it will likely fall on Dermott, Brodie, and Bogosian to fill out the second unit.

Bogosian is an upgrade

So, I mean, maybe not really since he’s mainly here to be a shutdown defender and that was apparently what Ceci excelled in last year, but Bogosian also didn’t kill offence when he was on the ice, and that’s potentially a good thing. Or to be more realistic, he killed it less.

There’s also the advantage that Bogosian costs $3.25M less than Ceci did when he put up those numbers, and even $250k less than him this year. When you figure that Bogosian will likely slot in as the 7th defenseman this year, as some affordable insurance/way to inject some additional toughness into the roster, he’s a much better alternative than the guy who was playing in the top pairing for far too long, before becoming tolerable as a bottom pairing defender later in the year.

Bogosian is a net positive in his minimal role, and combining his reduced role with stronger regular season defense partners, it’s entirely possible that Bogosian won’t be the scapegoat for the Leafs this year. He doesn’t have a lot on his resume to be excited about, but he’s here to keep Morgan Rielly from looking lost on a penalty kill, and pushing Cody Ceci to a different area code. He might not be the powerhouse hitter of a few years ago, but after seeing Bogosian introduce more aggressiveness back into his game during the playoffs, perhaps that is something the Leafs can rely on as well.