Bruins Top 25 Under 25
#18: Rob O’Gara - D
Where did he come from? 2011 Draft - 5th round, 151th overall
Has he played in the NHL? Yes - 3 games
The former Yale Bulldog earned his first, and only NHL action to date during the 2016-17 season, suiting up for 3 games. fans will remember that both he and Carlo opened the season with the Boston Bruins due to various injuries to Boston’s defensive corp. During his time on the Bruins roster he was primarily an injury fill in for veteran defense man Adam McQuaid, after he suffered an undisclosed upper body injury.
Once McQuaid returned, O’Gara played 59 games for Providence (4g, 9a, +11) before getting injured during the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
While other young defensemen have stolen the spotlight in recent years, O’Gara provided a steady, if unspectacular presence during his time on the big league roster. He didn’t show up on the score sheet (3GP, 0pts, 0 PIM, +1), however he had an unusually calm and fluid presence on the ice for a defenseman his age. As the saying goes, if you don’t notice a young defenseman, he is probably doing his job.
He has NHL size (6’4”, 207lbs) and like fellow Providence teammates Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril, he is a left handed shot. However, the similarities generally end there. O’Gara projects to be closer to a bottom 4 defense man than a offensive or two way Dman like Zboril or Lauzon. Notably, O’Gara can use his size and strong sense of positioning to his advantage whereas Grzelcyk (3rd rd), Lauzon (2nd rd) and Zboril (1st rd) have more advanced offensive upside and mobility to go along with their higher draft pedigrees.
What does the future look like for O’Gara?
There are certainly younger defensemen in the system who have more skill and more offensive upside than O’Gara, but it is his size and poise in his own end that may ultimately gain him another look at the NHL level. He probably won’t make the NHL roster out of training camp, barring trades (McQuaid) or injuries, but he is arguably atop the list of Providence dmen who could earn a call up during the 2017-18 season.
His primary competition for an NHL roster spot will be McQuaid, Paul Postma, Zboril & Grzelcyk. While he isn’t the most skilled or experienced of those players, the combination of his cheap contract and size could easily be his ticket to a regular NHL roster spot.
It’s important to remember that even with the recent trend of offensive defensemen, there is still a place for defensively responsible, high energy defensemen. Not every roster spot is reserved for the McAvoy and Zboril’s on the depth chart. If O’Gara is going to earn his way into the lineup with the Bruins, he is going to have to continue to work on his strong positioning, adding more of a physical element to his game and improving his play with the puck. If he can progress in Providence and work on his skills in these areas, this writer and others believe it won’t be long until he is playing for the Bruins.