Without question the unsung hero of the Nashville Predators has been Nick Bonino. He’s been the biggest surprise of the team so far.
The Nashville Predators may be on the outside looking in as of now, but if they end up creeping into the playoffs then Nick Bonino will be major reason why.
Bonino’s numbers don’t jump off the page by any means, but he’s providing an unquestionable boost to the third line. He’s led the most consistent line combination for the Predators through the first half of the season.
Who would’ve thought that not too long ago Bonino would be leading the team in goals? Filip Forsberg has since passed him up by one goal. Bonino could still end up being the team’s leader in goals when the season comes to an end. It would be a bit of shock, but it’s conceivable.
Bonino won our recent Twitter poll as the team’s most valuable player aside from the obvious choice of Roman Josi. It received over 500 votes:
Where would this team be without Bonino’s steady play on the third line? Even more so, who would’ve guessed that he’d be the overwhelming choice to be the team’s most valuable player over the likes of Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Ryan Ellis?
Inside his numbers
Bonino is on pace to finish right around his career high for points, which is 49 set back when he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks in 2014. I fully expect him to keep up this current pace under this new system that head coach John Hynes is installing.
Another surprising stat from Bonino is his insane shooting percentage of over 18 percent, which is way above his career average and the league average that’s usually around ten percent. This particular statistic may come back down to reality a bit, and perhaps Bonino won’t keep up exactly this pace.
With that said, Bonino is benefiting the team in several ways. He’s making players around him better like Rocco Grimaldi and Craig Smith. As mentioned earlier, that line has been the most consistent on the entire team, even with all of the line shuffling throughout the first 40-plus games.
What’s so important about Bonino’s play this season is he’s contributing in so many different areas. He’s posting career highs in faceoff win percentage at over 54 percent and putting in valuable ice time of nearly 17 minutes per game.
Bonino isn’t on an elite level or anything, and didn’t necessarily deserve an All-Star selection or lighting the league on fire. However, he’s playing his role tremendously in the bottom six and has been a welcome surprise to the team. A team that’s had very few good surprises this season.
He’s not going to get a perfect grade because he is still a bottom six player that’s not going to go on crazy scoring surges. His consistency and steadiness to the bottom six gets him a better grade than I would’ve expected to be giving him if I went back three months ago when the season was starting.