Bob Murray has long been a believer in the potential of Nick Bonino
|“It takes awhile to get used to the speed, physically and mentally,” Bonino said. "It’s something that I’ve just worked on. I’m playing with two good guys right now. It gives me confidence. It’s fun out there.” |
Back on March 4, 2009, the Ducks Executive VP/GM made a flurry of moves at the trade deadline. Most were made to improve the team for that year’s playoff run, which ended in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Detroit. But one specifically had on the eye on the future, as Murray shipped veterans Travis Moen and Kent Huskins to Pacific Division rival San Jose in exchange for Bonino and now-former Duck prospect Timo Pielmeier.
“Probably the one that people will not understand or are going to complain about is the deal with San Jose, but what you have to understand is we think we got one of the top young prospects in hockey, a 21-year-old center Nick Bonino
,” said Murray back on that busy day. “He’s playing at Boston University and is one of the best college players in the country right now. We have to get some help at center. There is no way I’m dealing with (Sharks GM) Doug Wilson unless I get this guy. I can’t emphasize enough how good we think this player is.”
Bonino is starting to realize that potential, enjoying the best success yet of his three-year NHL career. Playing on the team's third forward line with Jason Blake
and Andrew Cogliano
, the center posted his first multi-point game (two assists) in the league during Wednesday night’s 6-2 rout of the Coyotes.
“It takes awhile to get used to the speed, physically and mentally,” said Bonino after Thursday’s practice at The Rinks – Anaheim Ice. “It’s a process. I don’t think anyone is ever comfortable, except maybe Teemu and Saku. It’s something that I’ve just worked on. I’m playing with two good guys right now. It gives me confidence. It’s fun out there.”Watch Post-Practice Video
The Bonino-Blake-Cogliano trio first hit the ice together at the start of the team’s current seven-game point streak on Jan. 6 against the Islanders. They quickly found chemistry and have been particularly effective during the current three-game winning streak, combining for four goals, 11 points and a plus-11 rating.
|“You want to be here,” Bonino said. “One of the bigger things I’ve focused on is when I get sent down, not to get upset. Just get back to the grind, work my butt off and hopefully it will pay off. This time around, I’ve showed I can do more than I have done. If I want to stay up, it has to continue.” |
“They are just so fast,” Bonino said. “My game is to move the puck and play down low. With those two guys, if I get them the puck in open ice they are going to get in the zone and make plays. They are so quick on the puck, hounding the other team in the neutral zone and the offensive zone, and creating turnovers. “
Said Cogliano, “In the offensive zone, we’re just being relentless and trying to turn over pucks. With Blakey and me, we can use our speed. Bones is really good at making plays and passes. He’s a guy who is good down low with the puck. If we get it to him, we can great openings. That was a good game for us.”
This type of play was typically the case for Bonino during his three seasons at Boston University from 2007-10. He helped the Terriers to the 2009 NCAA Championship five weeks after that Ducks-Sharks trade, scoring a game-tying goal with 18 seconds left in regulation of the title game against Miami (OH) and was named to the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team.By the time he departed the school, he had totaled 117 points in 116 career college contests.
While he scored his first NHL goal in his second career game, Bonino found scoring harder to come by in his first two seasons in the NHL. He ended his brief stint with the Ducks in 2009-10 with two points in nine games and did not register a point in 26 appearances with the club last season. But since he was called up from AHL Syracuse for the third time this season on Dec. 16, something seems to have clicked. He has amassed three goals (including his elusive second career tally on Dec. 19) and six points in the 13 games after the promotion.
“You want to be here,” Bonino said. “One of the bigger things I’ve focused on is when I get sent down, not to get upset. Just get back to the grind, work my butt off and hopefully it will pay off. This time around, I’ve showed I can do more than I have done. If I want to stay up, it has to continue.”
Still learning about Bonino, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau is pleased with what he’s getting from the center and hopes his progress continues in the coming months of the 2011-12 season. “He’s a smart player. You can he has some intelligence and a feel for the puck. He’s getting a chance to play. It’s up to him to make the most of it.”