Outside of the obvious, which was the broken leg that shelved Zach Bogosian
for 11 weeks early in the season, the hardest part of the Atlanta rookie defenseman's season was getting used to playing against the best forwards in the world.
The best part?
Well, that would be realizing over the course of the last three months that he can do it -- and do it well.
"I like to play that style, jump in the play, so things are slowing down," Bogosian told NHL.com. "The bounces start going your way and the next thing you know you are playing your old style. That's the way I want to play."
Bogosian, the third pick in last June's Entry Draft, made the Thrashers out of training camp, but got off to a rocky start. He had zero points, a minus-2 rating and one ill-advised fight with known pugilist Donald Brashear
before breaking his leg Oct. 28 against Philadelphia in his eighth career NHL game.
He didn't return until two months later, but that was short-lived. Bogosian wasn't ready for the NHL, so he went to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League for a rehab stint.
After rejoining the Thrashers' lineup on Jan. 14, he was the player every scout and analyst thought he could be.
"I think he's going to be an All-Star very shortly," Atlanta coach John Anderson
said of Bogosian, who had 9 goals, 19 points and a plus-11 rating in 47 games while averaging 18:06 of ice time per game, fourth on the team.
A year ago at this time, Bogosian was getting ready for the draft in Ottawa.
"Yeah, it's pretty crazy. It's gone by so fast," he said. "Everything happens so quickly, especially in this game because you're at home, you're on the road and then back home. Time really flies."
Bogosian plans to spend most of his summer at home in Massena, N.Y. He said he'll be in Atlanta to host a draft party, but for the most part he's planning on getting a lot of downtime while also working out daily to improve his strength.
"I'll get a low-key summer," Bogosian said, "unlike the last one, when I was flying everywhere and meeting teams and doing the combine and the draft and development camps. I'll spend my summer in Massena. It's a good, low-key place for me."
His goal, though, is to add about five pounds to his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame to enhance his overall strength while not taking away from any of his natural speed.
Bogosian said there were times during the season when the extra weight would have helped. It should be easy to put on the pounds considering he won't turn 19 until July 15, and he knows his body is still very much in the development stage.
"I'm not going to come back next season weighing 230 or something like that," Bogosian said. "I guess now it doesn't matter in this League if you're big or small or whatnot. Everyone is strong. The difference is you can be strong in the weight room, but you also have to be strong on your skates and I feel that hopefully over the summer I'll get stronger and faster."
The great thing for Bogosian now is he'll begin his summer workout routine knowing he can compete in the NHL, that he can shut down the world's top forwards, that he can create offense and score goals against the world's best goalies.
"When you are new to something you learn a lot of things, and in the NHL you learn player tendencies, buildings, bounces and how to pace yourself for an 82-game season," Bogosian said. "You really have to learn all those things."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.