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Nick Bonino should give Ducks a boost in first full season

Young center performed well before being injured last season and is expected to play on the second line.

September 28, 2013|By Lance Pugmire
  • Ducks center Nick Bonino, shown jumping over Colorado's Chris Bigras on Sept. 18, had five goals and eight assists playing on the Ducks' second line last season before ripping his right hamstring in a casual soccer game.
Ducks center Nick Bonino, shown jumping over Colorado's Chris Bigras… (Jack Dempsey / Associated…)

Nick Bonino is positioned to play his first full NHL season, which should be a significant boost for the Ducks.

The 25-year-old center had five goals and eight assists playing alongside Teemu Selanne on the Ducks' second line last season before ripping his right hamstring in a soccer game after the team surged to a 17-3-3 start.

Selanne said after a Game 7 first-round playoff exit that featured three Bonino goals in the series that he never felt as comfortable with anyone else on the line. The Ducks slid to 11-8-3 in the games Bonino sat out from March 10 to April 21.

"You expect ups and downs in a season, we had a little down when I was out, but I'm not sure that directly correlates," Bonino said. "I doubt it."

Others disagree and point to the player who helped Boston University win an NCAA championship in 2009 as a complete package expected to be assigned by Coach Bruce Boudreau alongside Selanne and off-season acquisition Jakob Silfverberg on the second line.

The Ducks on Saturday completed their exhibition season against the San Jose Sharks, and will open the regular season Wednesday night at Colorado.

"Complement my wingers," Bonino said. "In talking to Bruce, that's the biggest thing he's looking for with me, not trying to do everything yourself. My strongest point is getting the puck to guys that can shoot. Playing with scorers like [Kyle] Palmieri, Selanne, you get them the puck in good areas. At the same time, I'll try to be a factor on penalty kill, power play and bear down on faceoffs. That's something I'd like to improve upon."

Bonino said the comfort of experience is especially important.

"The more you're around the NHL … the biggest thing is knowing how much time you have with the puck," Bonino said. "When I came in, my first 50 games, I was rushing everything, thinking I was going to get killed. Knowing how much time you have gives you confidence."

Cuts coming

The Ducks by Monday will trim their roster to 23 players, including defenseman Sheldon Souray, who will be on injured reserve.

Although Saturday's game was not complete at press time, Boudreau said Friday it was "big" for bubble players, including center Peter Holland, right wing Devante Smith-Pelly and young defenseman Hampus Lindholm, who played his way into contention for a spot with three exhibition goals.

"Sometimes it comes down to one game," Boudreau said.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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