I think that the real question regarding Zach Bogosian trade talk is if it's valid trade talk or not. No player is untouchable, as TSN's Bob McKenzie brings up in his article on this topic - Thrashers General Manager Rick Dudley wanted to trade Vincent Lecavalier out of Tampa Bay during his tenure with the Lightning, so anything's possible. Not to mention, the Thrashers are the team who gave up on Braden Coburn for Alexei Zhitnik just to get into the playoffs. It comes as no surprise, then, that reporters are assuming that the Thrashers are willing to make another desperation move to get into the playoffs
McKenzie mentions that the rumors surrounding a Zach Bogosian trade are in regards to Dustin Penner of the Edmonton Oilers. Penner has stats comparable with about ten of Atlanta's forwards, has one more year left on a $4,250,000 contract, and is vastly overpaid. Bogosian, however, is going to be an RFA this summer. His underproduction this season gives the Thrashers a bargaining chip in re-signing him to a contract that wouldn't be as expensive as if Bogosian'd performed to potential this season - a short RFA deal for a couple more years at a reasonable price could give the Thrashers a chance to see Bogosian's long term potential without plunking down a chunk of cash. He can't be a UFA until he's 27, and before that point the Thrashers should be able to figure out what kind of defenseman he is.
With a chance to evaluate Bogosian long-term before making decisions at an inexpensive price, why would the Thrashers pass this up to get a middling and underachieving forward? What incentive would Atlanta have, before or at the trade deadline, to trade their third overall pick from 2008 for someone who has cracked thirty goals only once in his career? To make the playoffs, the Thrashers have to be buyers, not sellers - and a deal like this isn't an upgrade, it's just helping Edmonton rebuild another step.
Some Thrasher fans want Bogosian's head on a plate for his performance this season and last season without taking his development and the fact that he could have been rushed into consideration. McKenzie does look at the questions surrounding Bogosian's regression, and comes up with this surprising tidbit:
What's absolutely certain, regardless of who's right and who's wrong, is that there has been a fractious and counter-productive relationship between new Thrasher assistant coach John Torchetti and Bogosian and it may have festered too long before being addressed internally by the Thrashers.
By all accounts, things have been somewhat better of late. Since Enstrom went out of the lineup with injury, Bogosian has been counted on more, and played better than he had been playing.
But the whole dynamic between Torchetti and Bogosian has been much talked about in NHL circles. As soon as rival GMs saw Bogosian being a healthy scratch, they began investigating the circumstances and sensed an opportunity to perhaps extricate him from there. Hence, the growing crescendo of trade rumors.
Valid point made about Bogosian stepping up. He's being relied on, especially on the powerplay, and has played better in the past few games. The dynamic between he and Torchetti is a new development for Thrashers fans, who understand that a coach/player disagreement can sometimes reverse development (Bryan Little and John Anderson) or a dip in numbers (Ilya Kovalchuk and Bob Hartley). While not an excuse for poor performance on ice, it is still a valid reason to be tossed out there when talking about player problems.
Regardless of the reason Bogosian is under-producing, and he severely is doing so this season, for the Thrashers to trade him away is presuming too much about the irresponsibility of this franchise. They might not've developed Coburn properly and then traded him away for an aging player, but the chances of that happening again are slim to none. No one is untouchable, but team ownership and the front office surely has learned from their mistakes of 2007.