Rangers: Aging center could revitalize career in bottom-6

Nick Bonino, Rangers, New York Rangers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers spent most of the 2023 off-season signing veteran depth players to one-year deals. Not all of them will have the opportunity to play full-time for the Rangers, but it will create an interesting competitive environment that should have the entire bottom six playing their hardest trying to maintain their roster spots.

One key signing that should have a steady roster spot is Nick Bonino. Despite being an older player at 35 years old, this opportunity on the Rangers could throw Bonino back into the mix as a top player.

Bonino and the Rangers head coach have experience together

The biggest offseason move for the Rangers this year came in the form of hiring Peter Laviolette as head coach, replacing Gerard Gallant behind the bench. While it may seem like ages ago, Bonino previously had the opportunity to play under Laviolette back in the late 2010s on the Nashville Predators.

It’s clear that Laviolette plans on introducing a new system to the Rangers’ play style, and it may be somewhat difficult for certain players to make such a large adjustment. Having a veteran player such as Bonino who has already spent a portion of his career successfully executing this coaching style could be beneficial to the Rangers.

“While he is now 35, he’s got a ton of experience in the league that will be useful to help guide some of the younger Rangers. As another player who knows what it takes to capture the Stanley Cup, there should be plenty of young players trying to learn from Bonino.”

via Blue Line Station

Joining a new team is never easy, but having previously established relations with key individuals within the organization should make Bonino feel right at home and ready to hit the ice.

Playing for a playoff contender again could help Bonino shine

Throughout his first tenure with Pittsburgh from 2015-2017, Bonino helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships. He was a key player throughout that run, leading the infamous HBK (Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel) line as one of the best third lines in NHL history.

Since then, Bonino hasn’t had much of an opportunity to perform in a proper competitive playoff setting. He’s bounced around the league, playing for a handful of different teams in just a few years. His most recent season was split between the San Jose Sharks and the Penguins once again, with neither team clinching a spot in the 2023 playoffs. The Sharks had one of the worst seasons in their franchise’s history, giving Bonino little room to excel.

Playing for the Rangers will give Bonino the opportunity to return to form. While he won’t have as prominent a position as he did in the past, the players surrounding Bonino are far more talented than anything he’s seen in recent years. If there were ever a chance for Bonino to revitalize his career, this opportunity with the Blueshirts would be the time to make it happen.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: