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Canucks Player Autopsy: Nick Bonino

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The man who was the focal point of many discussions... Was he good? Bad? Both? Neither?

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Who's this guy?

Nicholas Lawrence Bonino: AKA the ‘roster player’ who came to town as part of the return for ‘he who shall not be named’.

Position: C

Shoots: Left

Height: 6’1

Weight: 196

Born: April 20, 1988 in Hartford, CT (Go Whalers!)

Bonino was selected in the 6th Round by the San Jose Sharks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft… Know who the Canucks draft ahead of him that year? Patrick White (25th Overall, playing in Germany); Taylor Ellington (33rd, most recently played in Denmark); Charles-Antoine Messier (145th, OUAA Graduate); and Ilya Kablukov (146th, KHL); Yeah, that was a memorably bad draft for us!

What'd he do? Bones started out the season by trying to make people forget about who we traded to acquire him at the draft by putting up 8 points in his first 10 games with the Canucks. This led us to believe that he would be able to build upon his career year of ’13-’14 where he posted 49 points in 77 games. Unfortunately he wasn't able to sustain that pace and ended the season with 39 points.

Here's a graph for those who like those sort of things:

So was he any good?

Let’s be honest, he’s not a true second line Center! Sir Trevor & associates anointed Nick as their 2nd line Center immediately after his trade to the team… Was it because they expected him to be better than his previous season or was it because there wasn’t a better option?

If you were looking for a player who was going to put up 60+ points, you'd be disappointed.  If you were looking for a guy who quietly went about his business, played tough minutes, and was defensively responsible, you'd be pretty content.

What'd we like?

He has a very nice contract! His cap hit is a meager $1.9M for the next couple of seasons which is great value for a guy who score on occasion and play against tough competition every night. Let’s hope that GMJB doesn’t decide to reward him to Gillis-esque long term ‘thanks for taking one for the team’ inflated contract after this one ends after the 2016-2017 season.

Being Mr. Clutch! With 6 GWG’s this year, #13 showed us that he’s a guy who can be counted on when the game is up for grabs (tied for 15th in the NHL).

Nick was sent over the boards to face the NHL’s best forwards regularly because of his under rated defensive game.  There's really nothing flashy to his game, but his elite hockey IQ gives him the ability to know where to be at all times on defense.

Cool. So what did we hate?

The scoring dried up between November and March. As a second liner, you have to be able to chip in somewhat frequently… 4 months with only 6 points just doesn’t cut it!

His power play stats left a lot to be desired; in 13-14 he had 20 PPP, in 14-15 that number dropped to 5. Yeah I know, he was riding shotgun with Getzlaf and Perry last year but does that mean that he should lose 75% of his productivity with the man advantage?

The 47.4% faceoff percentage was slightly better than top liner Henrik Sedin’s 45%, but I don't think you'd pick either of them for a must win face-off. For comparison’s sake, the guy Nick replaced won 56.3% of his face-offs this year (just sayin’).

So what now?

Bonino has crossed the pond to represent the Americans at the world championships where he should be one of the best forwards for his team (lots of NCAA talent up front for team USA).

Barring a major roster shakeup this summer, Bonino is likely to be the 3rd line center to open the season with Bo Horvat stepping into the 2nd line roll. This shouldn't change his production, but it will change how his success is evaluated.

Gmonk33’s Rating: C+ (B- if he were the 3rd line Center)