Montreal Canadiens Should Claim Zach Bogosian Off Waivers

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 25: Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens and Zach Bogosian #4 of the Buffalo Sabres race to a loose puck in the corner during the third period at the KeyBank Center on October 25, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 25: Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens and Zach Bogosian #4 of the Buffalo Sabres race to a loose puck in the corner during the third period at the KeyBank Center on October 25, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens could use all they help they can get right now, especially if it is for free. They should claim Zach Bogosian off waivers today.

The Montreal Canadiens playoff hopes may have already sailed. They will have to go on quite the run to have any chance at getting in, but could slide into the third spot in the Atlantic Division if everything goes the right way. That would mean the Habs finish the year on fire and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers falter.

It is not inconceivable, though it is unlikely. The Canadiens have played well at times this season and could string together a solid 22 game run from here on out. The Maple Leafs have their own flaws and haven’t won a game in regulation yet this month. The Panthers can score in bunches, but can also allow goals in bunches. Their ten million dollar goaltender has a save percentage under .900.

It is not impossible that the Habs go on a roll and the Maple Leafs and Panthers have less than 20 points in their last 20 games, opening the door for the Canadiens to sneak into the postseason.

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If it is going to happen, the Habs are going to need a little help. They have battled injuries all year long and are finally getting healthy up front. Unfortunately, their forwards leaving the injured reserve has happened at the same time that Shea Weber has joined the injured list.

Weber is the minutes leader among Habs players and is often on the ice against the best players on the opposing team. With Weber out of the lineup, the Canadiens were forced to call up Xavier Ouellet from the Laval Rocket. They now have Ben Chiarot taking on huge minutes with Victor Mete, Brett Kulak playing with Jeff Petry and Ouellet on the third pairing with Marco Scandella.

It is not the most feared group of defenders in the entire league. The Habs could use an upgrade if they want to give themselves the best chance at keeping up with the Maple Leafs and Panthers. But they are seven points back of the Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot, so does it make sense to give up a prospect or pick to upgrade the team?

Probably not. So how do you make a team better without giving anything up? You claim a veteran player off waivers.

Zach Bogosian found himself placed on waivers yesterday and teams have until 12:00 P.M. Eastern time today to put in a claim on him. Bogosian has one goal and five points in 19 games for the Buffalo Sabres this season so he would not be replacing Shea Weber’s offence. However, with Weber out of the lineup for at least the next three weeks, the Habs could use Bogosian’s defensively style and 6’3″ and 227 pound presence.

Bogosian requested a trade a few months ago as the Buffalo Sabres decided to build their team with about ten NHL defenders and not nearly enough NHL forwards. Bogosian has been in and out of the lineup and used as a 7th defender and not really given much of a role this season.

The 29 year old is in the final year of a contract that pays him just over $5 million per year. That salary is the reason the Sabres have not been able to find a trade partner. Making deals in the National Hockey League is difficult these days with so many teams close to the salary cap and not many of them could find a way to take on the contact.

The Montreal Canadiens are one of the few teams around the league that doesn’t spend anywhere near the salary cap and they could easily digest Bogosian’s contract. The third overall pick back in 2008 has played 636 games at the NHL level for the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets and Sabres. He plays a tough, gritty defensive style and could provide the Habs with decent minutes on the third pairing.

Bogosian certainly wouldn’t be able to replace Weber. However, he would be an upgrade on Xavier Ouellet on the third pairing and would be partnered with Marco Scandella who he played with in Buffalo. Some immediate chemistry with a familiar partner on a new team could allow Bogosian to play at the top of his game immediately.

It is possible if he plays well that a team would be willing to give up a draft pick for him at the trade deadline. Buffalo obviously found it difficult to find a trade partner but the Canadiens could retain half his salary in a later trade. They have already greatly improved Ilya Kovalchuk’s value after picking him up off the scrap heap and could do the same with Bogosian.

Even if they don’t eventually flip Bogosian, they could keep him around to play the rest of the season. This would allow Ouellet to return to the Laval Rocket where he is team captain and one of the most used defenseman on a team that is battling for a playoff spot. It would also ensure young defenders like Cale Fleury are allowed to develop for the rest of the year at the minor league level.

With Weber out of the lineup, the Habs could use a little more muscle on the back end. Bogosian provides that. His salary is a bit high for what he brings, but the Canadiens have plenty of cap space and he is free agent after this season. Bogosian is a veteran that could help a Habs team in a playoff push, or just eat minutes so young players aren’t forced to do so as the team plays out the string.

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Either way, a little added depth while giving up absolutely nothing in return is an added bonus for any NHL team. The Canadiens could use all the help they can get right now being far out of the playoffs but also holding on to hope they can get in somehow. Claiming Bogosian would add some depth at no cost and should be an avenue they consider today.