Zach Bogosian was the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, behind Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
There’s one impressive rookie performance last year that was completely glossed over.
It’s not Derick Brassard, who bowed out of the Calder race early with a shoulder injury. He’s expected to become a central piece in Rick Nash’s future with the Columbus Blue Jackets right away because of that performance.
It’s not Drew Doughty either. His first season is appreciated as an outstanding rookie campaign and he more than lived up to his No. 2 overall status.
It’s Zach Bogosian and he’s about to crash into your living room.
Because of a broken leg at the beginning of the year that forced him out for two months, Bogosian’s season was overshadowed by the accomplishments of others who had been doing it all year.
Bogosian’s nine goals and 19 points in 47 games were enough for accolades, but the cherry on top was his plus-11 rating, earned on the team that allowed the second-most goals against. Oh, also consider that before his injury Bogosian struggled offensively and didn’t post a single point, so he actually reached that total in 39 games.
The Thrashers won 22 of the 39 games Bogosian played in after returning from injury. So, did his season benefit from an improving team around him? Or is Bogosian the catalyst for an uncharacteristic surge?
Consider this: After the trade deadline, Bogosian consistently started playing approximately 20 minutes a night – and the extra time allowed him to score 11 points in his final 16 games, while the team went 10-6.
On the ice, his combination of power and mobility make him an intimidating opponent to face. In an April 1 game against Buffalo, a frustrated Dominic Moore felt the wrath of ‘Bogo’ and after the game the Thrasher uttered a quote I love, one that shows what type of a nasty customer he is to deal with:
“He had the puck. I threw him down. I was playing hard hockey. I guess he didn’t like that. It wasn’t cheap. He had the puck in his skates. That’s hockey. It’s not all skill out there. You’ve got to play nasty and put guys on their back. If he doesn’t like that style, I don’t know, too bad for him.”
On a blueline where 24-year-old Tobias Enstrom has played the most games as a Thrasher, Bogosian is the type of guy who will step in and grab the No. 1 defenseman role and everything that comes with it.
This article, described how, before being drafted, Bogosian attended a camp at Bentley University called “Leaders4Life.” J.B. Spisso, who worked with Bogosian there, got a call one day from an NHL coach, asking about the defenseman’s attitude.
“I told him, ‘That kid is full of fire. He’s a warrior, he’s a winner, he’s a leader,’ ” Spisso said.
Kind of reminds you of another big and gifted defenseman who played for the Peterborough Petes, doesn’t it?
At the draft combine, one scout mentioned to me how Bogosian went through the drills a year before like a bull through a china shop. He felt sorry for all those who had to go in front of the big defender because he navigated his way through the demanding drills like a “wild animal.”
The question, of course, is whether or not he can play a dominant and consistent game for a full and healthy season.
Something tells me a guy with that kind of character, style and reputation will answer the bell.
His was a rookie season just as impressive as any other and he might just be the ace up Atlanta’s sleeve as expectations for the team remain comparably low.
Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com's web content specialist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.