So Long Kesler, Hello Bonino

Just under three minutes into overtime of game six of the first round of the 2014 playoffs against the Dallas Stars (a must-win game for Dallas) Anaheim Duck Andrew Cogliano found teammate and centre Nick Bonino in front of the Stars’ net. With a clean wrist shot into the top left corner, Bonino ended the game and the series, sending the Ducks to the second round of the playoffs.

“He has a knack, no matter how he’s playing, good or bad but you put him out at the end because there’s something about him that he’s in the right position at the right time to make the right play,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told ducks.com after the Ducks’ game 6 overtime win. “That’s what he’s all about, so we put him out at the end and in overtime. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.”

Although the Ducks would not go further than the second round, that goal is just one brief illustration of the breakout season Bonino had in 2013-14 and the type of player he has become.

“There was one night earlier this year that he played god awful, and he was the first guy in the shootout,” Boudreau also said in another interview about Bonino’s ability to score big goals. “Somebody asked me, ‘Why did you put him in the shootout?’ I said, ‘Well, no matter how bad he plays, there’s always the chance that he’s the guy that’s going to finish it off for you.’ So you have faith in him at the end. If he’s playing good, bad or indifferent, he finds ways to get it done. And he’s found ways to get it done for us quite a few times.”

Bonino was acquired by the Canucks in the long anticipated Ryan Kesler trade on Friday, in which the Canucks traded Kesler and a third round draft pick in 2015 to the Anaheim Ducks for Bonino, defenceman Luca Sbisa, and the 24th and 85th picks in this year’s NHL Draft.

The slogan on the Canucks’ website and advertisements declares “change is coming;” this big trade certainly confirms that.

“Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa are talented players who immediately bring youth and skill to our roster,” Canucks GM Jim Benning told canucks.com.

If Bonino can deliver a repeat performance of his 2013-14 season, then the Canucks have gained a player with great offensive capabilities. Prior to 2013-14, Bonino had never scored more than five goals in one NHL season, but this past season he scored 26 goals and 49 points (slightly more than Kesler, who struggled offensively compared to past seasons).

Bonino was often scoring more than one goal a game in high school (in 2004-05 he scored 68 goals in 24 games for Farmington High School) and continued to contribute offensively during his three seasons with Boston University and during his time with the Ducks’ AHL team, the Syracuse Crunch. During the 2012-13 lockout Bonino played with HC Neumarkt-Egna in Italy’s Serie A2 League, scoring 26 goals and 26 points in 19 games.

The 26-year old has proven that he can score on the powerplay (another area the Canucks have struggled) and also stays out of the penalty box. He comes from a high-scoring team with recent playoff experience (he even got playing time last season alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry) and as Boudreau has mentioned, he has the ability to score big goals in big moments.

IN OTHER CANUCKS NEWS:

– The Canucks hired Willie Desjardins as their new head coach on Monday June 23rd. Desjardins recently led the AHL’s Texas Stars to a Calder Cup win on June 17th.

– The Canucks used their second compliance buyout on forward David Booth, who had one year and $4.75 million left on his contract, but only nine goals in 66 games this past season.

– Canucks defenceman Jason Garrison, the rights to Jeff Costello and a 7th round pick in 2015 were traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 50th pick in the 2014 draft.

– The Canucks traded the 2014 85th overall pick to the New York Rangers for forward Derek Dorsett.

– The Canucks traded the 2014 50th overall pick to the LA Kings for forward Linden Vey.

– Last week there were several rumours surrounding the Canucks and Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller and Dave Bolland, but nothing has been confirmed.

– NHL free agency opens on July 1st. The Canucks have two UFAs (Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts) and five RFAs (Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder, Zac Dalpe, Chris Tanev and Yannick Weber).

– The Canucks drafted seven players in the 2014 NHL Draft. In the first round they selected forward Jake Virtanen sixth overall and forward Jared McCann 24th overall.

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