The Vancouver Canucks official Youtube account released a video that has been making the rounds online today. It essentially aims to give us a little behind-the-scenes look at the team’s war room on the day of the draft, in which the braintrust is discussing the Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison trades that they’re about to make.
While it lasts for only just over a minute and I’m sure it was both expertly and conveniently edited, I personally eat this sort of stuff up. We don’t often get access to these sorts of nuggets which makes those rare instances when we do pretty cool.
There’s one big takeaway that gets hammered home if you were at all unclear about it by now: the team’s decision makers sure seem to be awfully fond of one Nick Bonino.
“We’re going to get Bonino, he scored 22 goals last year. So if he can get 20 for us, he gives us goals next year. The other thing is.. our coach wants Bonino. The coach really likes Bonino and wants him. Bonino is a distributor, he makes players around him better because he can get them the puck.”
For whatever it’s worth, 101 players scored 20 or more goals last season. As Benning pointed out Bonino was one of those 101 players (which the Vancouver Canucks happened to regrettably have just one of on their roster). I’m not sure how repeatable an accomplishment that is, however.
We know by now that individual shooting percentage tends to generally even out over time, and there are only a small amount of outliers on either end of the spectrum. David Booth has proven over the past few years that he’ll probably never be even a league average finisher again, whereas someone like a Mike Cammalleri has shown a knack for converting his opportunities at a high rate.
Not to dismiss Bonino’s craftiness or skill, but the chances that he’s legitimately a 13.8% true talent shooter moving forward strike me as exceedingly low. Only 26 players finished with a higher shooting percentage on at least 150 shots on goal last season, and if you look at the list you’ll quickly realize that most of the players on that list are superstars. The league average was 8.99% last year, and has around 9% over the past 5 seasons.
For Bonino to reach the 20-goal plateau again, he’ll almost certainly need to generate shots at a higher rate than his 6.99/60 last year (which was good for 178th in the league). Whether he’s able to do that remains to be seen. As does his ability to soak up the larger quantities of ice-time that he seems poised to receive heading into next year.
If he’s actually capable of even filling the 2C void in a passable manner is a legitimate question mark, but if you’re buying what Jim Benning and the team are saying then he’ll get every opportunity to try and do so to start the year.
At the time of the trade it was widely thought that the team had settled on a suboptimal return for a star player because their hands were tied and they had no leverage. Nick Bonino as the center piece of the trade seemed like it was at least the 3rd or 4th thing on a hypothetical wish list. That still may be true and this may all very well be a well executed spin. But maybe it all boils down to one thing: whether it’s justified or not, maybe they just really, really, really like Nick Bonino.