Defenseman Zach Bogosian will spend the next five to six months recovering from a "successful" hip surgery, the Buffalo Sabres announced Tuesday morning.
Bogosian, 28, told reporters during locker cleanout following the season finale that he was speaking with doctors to determine the best course of treatment for the injury that prevented him from playing in the final eight games.
If Bogosian's recovery requires the timeline provided by the team, he would likely miss the start of training camp and possibly the season. This is the second time in 15 months Bogosian has undergone hip surgery after he was limited to 18 games in 2017-18, though a source told The Buffalo News this recent procedure was on the opposite hip.
Despite the uncertainty, Bogosian expressed optimism about his performance in 65 games this season.
"I think I took a step in the right direction, just playing more games and trying to find a routine that works," he said during locker cleanout in KeyBank Center. "As an athlete, that’s what you’re always looking for, is something that works. I think I took a step in the right direction but there’s still a lot of work for me ahead.”
Perhaps Bogosian was alluding to the fact he may need more time to recover this offseason. Despite another injury-shortened year, he was mostly consistent on the blue line, scoring three goals with 16 assists and a minus-5 rating.
Bogosian also led the Sabres with ice time on the penalty kill and ranked second with 116 blocked shots, only five fewer than Rasmus Ristolainen. Bogosian also averaged 21 minutes, 38 seconds per game, his most ice time since 2015-16, and his 15 even-strength assists were the second most of his career.
An alternate captain during his fifth season with the team, Bogosian also served as a mentor to Rasmus Dahlin, whom he was paired with the most. Like Dahlin, Bogosian played in the NHL as an 18-year-old after being drafted third overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008.
Together, they formed one of the Sabres' more consistent pairings, though Dahlin's talent buoyed their production. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Sabres generated a 52.5 percent 5-on-5 shot attempt differential with Dahlin and Bogosian on the ice together.
This season was an important step for Bogosian after what he endured in 2017-18. He missed the first two months of last season because of a groin injury suffered in the third period of the final preseason game and underwent season-ending hip surgery in January.
Bogosian later revealed the hip had bothered him for years, and he opted to have surgery because of the long recovery needed. The right-handed defenseman declared himself healthy while competing in Da Beauty League, a summer showcase for NHL players, over the summer and performed well after missing the first five games of this season.
Though Bogosian began to miss practices because of "maintenance," he did not sit out another game until Feb. 10. The hip injury prevented him from playing more than 65 games for the first time since 2010-11, the Thrashers' final season before relocating to Winnipeg.
Bogosian has one season left on the seven-year, $36 million contract he signed with Winnipeg in 2013 that the Sabres assumed when they acquired him, along with Evander Kane, in 2015.
Bogosian will count $5,142,857 against the Sabres' salary cap in 2019-20. More important, his injury could impact the Sabres' offseason plans. During locker cleanout day, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen declined to say he wanted to return to the organization next season and questioned accountability among players.
The 24-year-old's name was involved in rumors ahead of this season's trade deadline and could help General Manager Jason Botterill acquire the scoring help the Sabres need without having to spend high prices in free agency. Though Ristolainen was a league-worst minus-41 this season, his upside and contract – three more years at $5.4 million per season – would draw interest from teams around the league.
However, trading Ristolainen would leave the Sabres short on right-handed defenseman if Bogosian is to miss the start of the season. Though Botterill acquired Brandon Montour ahead of the trade deadline, Casey Nelson is the only other right-handed NHL defenseman under contract through next season.
A Ristolainen trade and long Bogosian absence could potentially force the next Sabres coach to rely on Will Borgen, no small task for a 22-year-old given the ice time Ristolainen and Bogosian log, at the start of the season.