For the second consecutive offseason, Nick Bonino is on the move.
Today, the Penguins acquired the 27-year-old center from the Canucks, along with defenseman Adam Clendening and a 2016 second-round draft pick in exchange for center Brandon Sutter and a 2016 third-round pick.
During the 2014 draft, the Canucks acquired Bonino as part of a deal which sent center Ryan Kesler to Anaheim.
Earlier this afternoon, Bonino, a native of Hartford, talked about being traded again, what he expects with the Penguins and being back on the East Coast.
What was your reaction to today's trade?
"It's a shock at first for sure. It's definitely exciting coming to a team that's won in the past and won recently. It definitely makes me pretty excited."
You've been traded twice in as many offseasons. What has the past 13 months or so been like?
"It's been a whirlwind. When you've been traded like this. It's a little bit sad. You're leaving guys – I think that's that's the worst part – you're leaving guys in Anaheim that I've grown up with for four or five years and then in Vancouver that you've bonded with over the last year. That's always a shock but at the same time, it's exciting. You get to meet a new group of guys. I'm excited to do that."
The last two seasons have been your most productive as an NHL player. What has worked for you over that span?
"I think it was confidence. I think it was being put in a position to succeed. I know my first few years in Anaheim, I wasn't playing a game I could play that I was good at. I was playing limited minutes and that's very normal for a young guy so I don't hold anything against them. But I think [Ducks coach] Bruce Boudreau and [Canucks coach] Willie Desjardins both gave me ice time. They gave me opportunity and I think in this league, that's really big. You get confidence from that. The two years, I had really good power-play numbers and last year, with the [first power-play unit with the Sedin twins] playing a good amount of minutes, my power-play numbers weren't as good but my even-strength numbers went up and I think that's even more important. I think it comes down to confidence and opportunity."
In the past, centers like Jordan Staal and Brandon Sutter have seen some benefits of playing behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Do you anticipate something similiar for yourself?
"I think flying under the radar is nothing new to me. That's something I'm used to. Those guys are world class player. Last year in Vancouver, I played a lot of minutes against tough, tough centers. Guys like [Anaheim's Ryan Gezlaf] and [Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar] and [San Jose's Joe Thornton] and stuff like that. I think it's a role I can play. Maybe help a bit more offensively. But at the same time, if you can get four lines to score in the NHL these days, that's how teams are winning and that's how teams are successful. That's obviously something that I'll be looking to contribute to, the offense and play two ways."
You grew up in Connecticut and played at Boston University but have spent your entire NHL career on the West Coast. What is it like being on the Eastern side of North America?
"I think it makes our cross-country drives a little bit easier. My wife and I have driven out to Anaheim and Vancouver back and fourth every single time. Probably four times. It makes it a little bit easier on my family for watching. I know my 90-year-old grandparents watch every game and they stay up. I'm happy they get to watch me a little bit earlier. It's definitely going to be a change."
You're listed as a center. Have you played much wing in your career?
"Not really. I've pretty much been a center. I'm not the fastest guy. Wingers these days are usually fast. Not to say I can't skate out there but I've been pretty comfortable at center just being able to keep my feet moving, always moving, supporting the puck. That's something that I enjoying doing is playing center. I'm not sure what they have in store for me but I've always been a center."
How much do you know about how the style the Penguins play under head coach Mike Johnston?
"We watch a lot of hockey obviously before our games on the West Coast. I've seen the Penguins a ton. They're always in the playoffs. I know they've got such good offensive players. It's always exciting to watch them. I'm excited to see where I fit into that. I know it's nice getting out of that Pacific Division because that's a big, physical division that gives your body a beating. It will be nice to get to Pittsburgh and have a little easier travel and see what the Eastern Conference is about."
Did you have any sense that being traded again could have been a possibility?
"This was a complete blind side. Last year, TSN was reporting that Kesler was on the move and he had two destinations in mind. So that was a possibility. This year, when I saw [team president] Trevor Linden's name [on the caller ID] I joked to my wife, 'Oh, maybe I got traded again.' Then I answered the phone thinking it was a 'keep-in-touch' call over the summer. This was a complete shock. Absolutely zero percent that I knew anything about so it's definitely shocking."
(Photos: Rich Lam/Getty Images)