It’s Official: Penguins Bringing Back Nick Bonino
The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired the bottom-six center they’ve been seeking.
And he’s not a stranger.
They are bringing back Nick Bonino, a member of their Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2016 and 2017.
Word of a deal began to circulate Friday morning, but an individual with knowledge of the negotiations said it was “not done,” and there was no announcement from any of the parties until shortly before 2 p.m.
The Penguins gave up a conditional fifth-round draft choice in 2024 and a 2023 seventh-rounder to San Jose in the exchange. Montreal, which actually got Bonino from the Sharks before passing him along to the Penguins, received San Jose’s fifth-rounder in 2024 and defenseman Tony Sund for taking on 50 percent of Bonino’s $2.05 million salary-cap hit.
The Sharks also received the rights to Montreal defense prospect Arvid Henrikson.
The condition attached to the 2024 choice the Penguins relinquished is that it becomes a fourth-rounder if the Penguins reach the Eastern Conference final this spring.
Taking on Bonino’s contract would have put the Penguins over the NHL cap ceiling of $82.5 million, which could be part of the reason they sent forwards Drew O’Connor and Drake Caggiula to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in late morning.
Also, because those two were assigned to the American Hockey League before the trade deadline arrived, they will be eligible to participate in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Bonino has 10 goals and nine assists in 59 games this season.
He presumably will play in the middle of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ third or fourth line (probably the latter) and join the penalty-killing unit.
During his first stint with the Penguins, Bonino was best-known for centering what came to be known as the “HBK Line,” with Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel on the wings.
Bonino is nearing the end of a two-year contract he signed with the Sharks as a free agent.
It was not immediately known whether Bonino will join the team in time to dress for the Penguins’ game against Florida Saturday at 6:08 p.m., assuming Mike Sullivan would be inclined to use him then.
The acquisition of Bonino comes in the wake of trades that sent Teddy Blueger to Vegas and brought in Mikael Granlund from Nashville.