Thoughts on the Bonino for Kunin Trade

Shortly after the Ottawa Senators traded for Matt Murray, another trade occurred involving players, as the Minnesota Wild traded center Luke Kunin and the 101st overall pick (Adam Wilsby), to the Nashville Predators in exchange for veteran center Nick Bonino, the 37th overall pick (Marat Khusnutdinov), and the 70th overall pick (traded to DET in a trade-up to pick 65 to select Daemon Hunt).

To address Minnesota’s side, Nick Bonino is a 32-year old, 6ft tall, 196lb center making $4.1 million for just one more season, as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2007 NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks. In the ten seasons of data we have on him, Bonino has registered positive individual AB seasons in 8/10 of them. He is coming off three straight positive individual AB seasons, including an outstanding +13.22 score in 2018-19, which was the highest score recorded by a Nashville Predators player that season. Career wise, Bonino has played 617 games, in which, he’s scored 122 goals and registered 150 assists for 282 points. He has recorded 975 shots on goal in those 617 games and has an impressive +72 +/- number over that time span as well. He averaged fifteen minutes per game over the course of his time with the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Nashville Predators. Nick Bonino has registered 5/10 seasons with a negative net penalty taken: drawn ratio, 3/10 seasons with an even net ratio, and 2/10 seasons with a positive net ratio. However, he has an incredible +141 turnover +/- number, and a +4.05 career AB score over 10 seasons. His veteran leadership and presence are certainly going to be of use in Minnesota, as he won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

Marat Khusnutdinov also appears to be a talented player, and a steal for the Minnesota Wild at 37th overall. Khusnutdinov is an 18-year old, 5ft,11inch tall, 176lb Center who was 12th on the NHL Central Scouting list of European skaters. In 2019-20, he played 44 games in the MHL with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, in which he scored 13 goals and registered 25 assists for 38 points. In two games so far this season, he has yet to register a point, and is -1 with a penalty taken in those games.

Looking at Nashville’s side, Luke Kunin is a former 1st round pick by the Minnesota Wild in 2016. He is a 22-year old center, standing at 6ft tall, weighing 197lbs. He is currently a restricted free agent and will need to sign a new contract with the Nashville Predators this offseason. In the three seasons of data we have on him, Luke Kunin has registered negative individual AB scores in all three of them, including the worst score of his career last season at -9.20. This score was also the worst score recorded by a Minnesota Wild player in the 2019-20 season. Career wise, Kunin has played 131 games, in which he scored 23 goals, and registered 29 assists for 52 points. He has recorded 248 shots on goal in those 131 games and has a -22 +/- number over that time span. He averaged 14.46 minutes per game in three seasons with the Minnesota Wild. In his three seasons with the Wild, Kunin has registered negative penalty taken: drawn ratios in two of them, and a positive ratio once. His turnover +/- number is a below average -22, and his career AB score is an extremely low -5.99. When we ran Kunin through our arbitration analyzer to predict his next contract, it came up with a range of $1.5-$2 million AAV.

The Nashville Predators used the 101st overall selection in the 2020 draft gained in this trade to pick 20-year old defenseman, Adam Wilsby. Wilsby is 6ft tall, and weighs 183lbs. In 41 games played for the Skelleftea of the SweHL, Wilsby scored 3 goals and registered 27 assists for 30 points. In those games he also recorded 26 penalty minutes and had a +1 +/- number.

In total, the Nashville Predators saved $8.1 million in cap space through trading Nick Bonino and buying out the contract of Kyle Turris, who’s large AAV prevented the team from providing him the change of scenery he desperately needs to revitalize his career. We think Bonino, despite being about a decade older than Kunin, is a better player and will contribute more for the Minnesota Wild next season. We also think Khusnutdinov is a promising prospect, and that he will certainly be interesting to watch as he makes his way up the Wild’s prospect pipeline. Overall, we love the trade for the Wild, and think that GM Bill Guerin and his staff did a masterful job at this year’s draft. More to come, as free agency is only a couple of days away from officially being open.

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