Replacing Nick Bonino

Nick Bonino got paid.

He also gets to play for a good team.

I’m happy for him and his family.

Four years at a $4.1M AAV; that’s what back to back Stanley Cups get you.

He was here for two years and never lost a playoff series.

He centered the HBK line and always seemed to score in the big situations.

I’ll cheer when Bonino returns, because he played his heart out for this team.

However, I’m glad the Penguins steered away from the contract that he got with Nashville. I loved Bonino, he was great in his role here, but his play was trending the wrong way already at 29. He only had seven points in the playoffs this year, and he was hardly noticeable other than a few timely goals.

Unless Nashville snags Matt Duchene to slot above him, Bonino is probably going to be their second center next year. It’s highly unlikely that he will score at the rate of a second line center next season and justify his $4.1M cap hit. Is his contract a huge overpayment? No, not really. Bonino is still a capable third line center and that’s not horrible value for the Predators. However, it’s important to remember that Bonino won’t have Crosby and Malkin taking the opponents best matchups game in and game out. Bonino also won’t have a world-class player like Phil Kessel alongside him to elevate his offensive output.

Bonino’s personality and the fact that he was a part of the last two Stanley Cup runs make it hard to see him go, but shouldn’t overshadow the fact that he is definitely replaceable. I’m going to take a look at a few potential third centers that the Penguins might consider for their quest to threepeat.

I’ve got no idea if any of these guys are available, but the inevitable third center trade is the hottest topic we have to discuss as Penguins fans right now. The Penguins have both the cap space and assets to make a big splash, but that’s not to say that they necessarily will. I wrote about the possibility of Matt Duchene here and a potential reunion with Jordan Staal here. Now, let’s take a look at some more low-key third center options as opposed to those upper-echelon players.

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