The Minnesota Wild have acquired forward Nick Bonino, a 2020 2nd round pick (37th overall, used to select Marat Khusnutdinov) and a 2020 3rd round pick (70th overall) from the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward Luke Kunin and a 2020 4th round pick (101st overall).
The Predators need some major upgrades, and they\’ve been clearing cap space today, buying-out Kyle Turris and Steven Santini, and making this trade. They could afford to keep Bonino\’s $4.1 million salary for one more year, and not give up two quality picks. Bonino has shown that he can be an effective third line center, and Wild GM Bill Guerin knows that, as he was Pittsburgh\’s assistant GM when Bonino helped them win a pair of Stanley Cups. Coming back, they move down about a round, and trade an extra 2nd for Kunin. While he is still young, the 2016 1st rounder has not shown that he can be much more than the third line center that Bonino is now. Kunin is an RFA, so Nashville will get to negotiate their own deal. The two things that really set the two players apart is defense, with the veteran Bonino crushing Kunin, although the latter still has some time to develop. On the Predators roster, Kunin could take Bonino\’s spot, but the Predators will very likely shake things up when free agency starts, so his exact spot isn\’t guaranteed.
Kunin, 22, scored 15 goals with 16 assists for 31 points in 63 games for the Wild this past season. In his NHL career, all in Minnesota, Kunin has 23 goals with 29 assists for 52 points in 131 games.
While the Wild seem far from being competitive in 2020-21, Bonino is a good addition. He can be on the penalty kill, play well at 5-on-5 and even participate on the power play if they want him to. Their cap situation needs to get straightened out, but Bonino only has one year left. An extension could easily have an AAV under the $4.1 million he currently has. The Wild could only hope that Kunin would develop into a Bonino-type, and value of the picks is great, especially since the 37th overall slot can sometimes be a borderline first rounder.
Bonino, 32, scored 18 goals with 17 assists for 35 points in 67 games for the Predators this past season. In his NHL career for the Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks, Bonino has scored 122 goals with 160 assists for 282 points in 626 games.