Over the last week the Ducks have made several changes to their roster (primarily because of injuries) and signed one of their young centers to a 3 year extension.
The Ducks and center Nick Bonino have agreed on a 3 year contract extension worth $5.7 million for an annual cap hit of $1.9 million. This season, Bonino has appeared in every game for the Ducks and scored 7 goals and 10 assists. The 7 goals is a career high for him, and he is 1 point shy of his career high set back in 11-12 (a number that he would have eclipsed last season if not for the lockout). Personally, I love this deal. Bonino is a hard worker and has gotten better every season that he has been with the team. I remember when he played his 1st 9 games back in the 09-10 season. At the time, I wasn't sure if he would make it with the team. He did put up 2 points, but in the following season he played in 26 games and didn't register a point. A lot of fans thought he was done, but he kept working on his game and put put 18 points in 50 games in his 3rd season. Now, in his 5th season in Anaheim, he is 4th in goals and points on the Ducks. He is incredibly versatile and can play on all 4 lines and both the powerplay and the penalty kill. Bonino has also really improved in the faceoff circle and is currently just over 51% on the season. He reminds me of both Sami Pahlsson and Todd Marchant, but with more offensive upside. If his defensive game and his faceoff numbers continue to improve, he could be a great 3rd line center for years to come. And for less than $2 million a year, this could turn into an amazing contract for the Ducks. An affordable 3rd line center with good offensive instincts is a great thing to have.
Another week, another rash of injuries for the Ducks. In the last week, the Ducks have lost both Francois Beauchemin and Bryan Allen to injury. Combine this with the recent injuries to Luca Sbisa and Victor Fasth, and the Ducks are really hurting. The Ducks currently have 4 of their top 6 sidelined (Sheldon Souray has yet to play a game this season), leaving a huge hole on the Ducks blueline. The Ducks have called up Sami Vatanen (who has 2 goals since his recall), Alex Grant, and Nolan Yonkman from Norfolk to fill in, andMark Fistric is now seeing regular game action for the 1st time all season. The Ducks also called up Frederik Andersen who played tonight and got the win against Calgary.
There is some good news for the Ducks, as Saku Koivu returned to the lineup tonight for the 1st time in 15 games. He has finally recovered from his concussion and returned triumphantly. He recorded 2 assists and was over 60% in the faceoff circle.
But, because of the Koivu's recall, the Ducks had to send both Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly to Norfolk. Both have played well in Anaheim, and certainly deserve a spot over some players in Anaheim, but they do not have to pass through waivers, and pretty much anyone else on this roster would be claimed right away. As the Ducks get healthy on the blueline and send more players down, I fully expect at least one of them, if not both, to be back in Anaheim in the near future. But for now, it's a numbers game, and the Ducks are carrying extra help on their blueline. And, considering the injury situation, it makes a lot of sense for the Ducks to go this route.