With a four-game winning streak, another weapon in Nick Bonino returns from injury for the Nashville Predators. We’ll need to show some patience, however.
Another tough Eastern Conference opponent awaits the Nashville Predators, but they’ll get more help with Nick Bonino returning from a lower body injury. Bonino is probable to play his first game since an October 14th loss to Chicago, per Thomas Willis of the Predators website:
With Bonino back on the starting roster, check out how deep the Predators are at center:
- Ryan Johansen (1st line)
- Kyle Turris (2nd line)
- Calle Jarnkrok (3rd or 4th line)
- Nick Bonino (3rd or 4th line)
- Colton Sissons (4th line)
Hard to beat that kind of depth for any team.
How Bonino improves the roster
It will be a beautiful thing to see the Predators finally get closer to 100 percent healthy and to their full potential. Bonino brings quality depth to the center position, even with the recent addition of Kyle Turris.
Bonino has just five regular season games under his belt for the Predators, so staying healthy is the top concern moving forward. In those five games he has just one goal and a minimal impact. He’s projected to play alongside Cody McLeod and Austin Watson on the fourth line. But I expect him to eventually move up to the third line. It’s clear that Laviolette is easing him in, so to speak.
What we need from Bonino is steady production on the third and fourth lines, and veteran leadership. His experience can take pressure off the top lines of having to carry the team every game. There’s also room for him as a winger with the center position having so much depth.
What to expect vs. Capitals, and long-term
His return absolutely makes the Nashville Predators a more dangerous team. They’re stacked with depth that most teams don’t have. They can go toe-to-toe with even the most elite rosters in the NHL. As for his first game back, his minutes will be modified. Don’t expect him to do too much right out of the gate.
Bonino is a steady contributor that doesn’t have to produce as much with Turris joining the team. The Predators have a reliable veteran presence on the back end of their roster. That’s a very nice thing to have. He’s not going to light the score sheet up every game. However, he will play smart hockey and is trustworthy in his role.
Thinking further down the road, Bonino is going to be a valuable part of a team looking to go deep into the playoffs again. You need smart, experienced players like Bonino on your playoff roster. There’s no guarantee the Predators even make the playoffs in a tough Western Conference, but Bonino absolutely bolsters their chances. Him finally being ready for game action comes at an opportune time with Scott Hartnell out for a few weeks.