There may have been several letdowns of the Nashville Predators season, but there were also some pleasant surprises like Nick Bonino.
Going into the 2019-20 season I looked over the Nashville Predators roster and saw a very strong top six of the lineup. I fully expected the team to be a little top-heavy and had more questions about their depth.
Instead of the depth being a sore issue, it was the top two lines that often didn’t live up to expectations. But Nick Bonino spearheaded the third line and gave the Predators a huge boosts when others were no-shows.
Bonino was in need of a revival of sorts for his NHL career. And he definitely did that this past season. It’s still not entirely a done deal that the season is over, but if it is, Bonino did what he had to do to reaffirm his importance on this team.
I’m not going to go so far as to say Bonino is team MVP over Roman Josi, because that’s just going a bit too far. But aside from the Josi, absolutely Bonino was the most valuable player to this team.
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You can argue that Juuse Saros helped carry the team into a current playoff spot over the late stretch of the regular season, but he also got off to a very sluggish start, whereas Bonino remained consistent for most of the season.
It was highly likely that Bonino would’ve surpassed the 20-goal mark for only the second time of his 11-year NHL career if this season went the full 82 games. He was at 18 goals, and added another 17 assists.
Bonino also missed just two games while averaging 16:31 of ice time. That’s slightly higher than his average ice time in his previous two seasons with Nashville. He made the most of it.
Even more so, Bonino made the third line a compete one that was reliable. He lead the charge at the center position by playing alongside Rocco Grimaldi a majority of the time. Grimaldi also had a career type of season.
But Bonino’s case is different than Grimaldi’s. We don’t completely know what’s ahead for Grimaldi as he’s just now starting to get regular playing time on the NHL level.
On the other hand, we thought we kind of knew what Bonino was. Over 500 games of NHL experience before the season started, and suddenly he posts 35 points and would’ve likely had the second-most productive season of his career if not for the shortened season.
I’m hoping, for many reasons, that the regular season is somehow completed. One reason is to see Bonino finish out this season with 80 games played and coming close to his most productive NHL season in 2013-14.
Bonino has one more year left on his current contract with the Nashville Predators that’s worth $4.1 million next season. If he has repeat type of season, then the Predators need to try to get him to a team-friendly, short-term deal.
In our full set of Nashville Predators season grades, Bonino got one of the top grades on the team:
It will be tricky to pull that off due to Bonino being so far towards the end of his career at nearly 32-years-old, and closer to 33 when his contract expires.
Even more so, Bonino is a great locker room veteran that is very valuable to teams that could be bringing in more inexperienced players into the fold in the near future. I’d put the Predators in that mix of bringing in players from the minor leagues in the coming two or three years.
Bonino can’t be overlooked as being such a vital player to keeping the Predators from completely sinking this season. He solidified the third line which was so productive and had so much chemistry.
The guy that some people like to call “Bones” was the biggest surprise on this team and was a big reason why the Nashville Predators’ ship never completely sank. I guess I have to forgive him for once playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins.