Enough can’t be said about the value of Nick Bonino to the Pittsburgh Penguins during their two Stanley Cup runs.
He arrived at a time when their bottom six was in shambles, to the point where that deficiency was a driving force behind GM Ray Shero’s departure. He was there at a time when Phil Kessel, the team’s big prize in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, hadn’t completely clicked with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, but created the fabled HBK Line with Bonino and Carl Hagelin that helped carry the Penguins to the 2016 Stanley Cup.
Bonino brought the grit, brought the character. Now, he’s bringing his talents to the team the Penguins defeated for the Stanley Cup: The Nashville Predators.
Bonino signed a four-year deal with a $4.1 million cap hit on July 1. In two years with the Penguins, he had 27 goals and 39 points in 143 games.
This is a nice move for the Predators, who are targeting their center position as an area of need this summer. Bonino can win you a faceoff, anchor your third line and play quality minutes. His playoff and championship experience can’t be underestimated for a team that’s right on the cusp.
Now comes the real question for the Pittsburgh Penguins: Who will be the next Nick Bonino?
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