#13 / Center / Pittsburgh Penguins
6-1 | 196 | April 20, 1988
Hartford, CT | 173rd, 2007 (San Jose)
|Assets||Displays solid two-way instincts, as well as leadership skills. Works hard to improve his game. Has the ability come up big with the game on the line. Is a factor on both special teams.|
|Flaws||Has skating concerns that can limit his impact at the highest level. Needs to become more consistent on offense, since he can run a little hot and cold during the course of the season.|
|Career Potential||Quality two-way center. (Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via The Hockey News player page)|
Career 25-Game Rolling Five-on-Five Corsi-For Percentage:
2015-16 Even-Strength Usage Chart:
Why you should know who he is: Whether you call Bonino's line (centering Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin) Pittsburgh's second or third (with Evgeni Malkin between Chris Kunitz and Eric Fehr getting the other title), it's a group that found chemistry late in the season and has kept it going during the playoffs. Per Puckalytics, the trio posted a 60.2 Corsi-For percentage and an 80.0 Goal-For percentage (12 goals for, three against) in 144 minutes at fives during the regular season, and Bonino had five assists in the first round (albeit just one at even-strength), which isn't bad for a guy who's averaged about one helper every four games over his career.
In his first season in Pittsburgh, Bonino provided bottom-six depth and some offense - a far cry from the 22 goals he potted for Vancouver two seasons earlier, but 26 even-strength points in 63 games is nothing to sneeze at. Bonino also has a pair of playoff overtime goals, which is twice as many as Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin combined, so there's that piece of trivia.
How the Caps can stop him: This is where it gets a bit interesting for the Caps. In a world of perfect line-matching, one would presume that Barry Trotz would put his top line along with Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen out against Crosby's line. But then what? Do you send your second line out against this one or the Malkin line? Against whom do you deploy the defensive pair of Brooks Orpik and John Carlson? Trotz's preferences will be clear soon enough, but it's no doubt something he's losing a little sleep over. (Personally, I'd save Orpik and Carlson for Malkin's line, probably with the Kuznetsov trio, and let the Caps' third line match Bonino's.)
As to stopping Bonino individually, take away Kessel and go from there. If Nick Bonino beats you on his own, tip your cap and get ready for the next face-off.