RALEIGH, N.C. (CP) - Being traded twice in one day - from the Ottawa Senators to the Los Angeles Kings to the Montreal Canadiens - had Radek Bonk reeling.
``After my agent called, I started calling everyone in my family to tell them I'm a King,'' Bonk said Sunday by telephone from his home in the Czech Republic. ``Fifteen minutes later, they told me I'm a Canadien and I had to call everyone all over again.
``But they're all happy for me.''
In the biggest deal at the NHL draft Saturday, Ottawa sent the six-foot-three centre to the Kings for a third-round draft pick.
Moments later, the Kings sent Bonk and goaltender Cristobal Huet to Montreal for back-up goalie Mathieu Garon and a third-round pick.
``It's a good feeling when a team wants you,'' Bonk said. ``Obviously, they want me and believe I can help.''
Bonk has been considered an underachiever for much of his 10 seasons in Ottawa since he was drafted third overall in 1994.
The Canadiens, who lost centre Joe Juneau to retirement and likely won't sign Yanic Perreault, wanted a big centre to match against other teams' top lines.
``We've got some big centres in our conference, like (Keith) Primeau and (Mats) Sundin, and it's important to have a big guy to play against them,'' coach Claude Julien said.
That suits the 28-year-old Bonk.
``That's a role I used to play more of in Ottawa,'' said Bonk. ``It's challenging and I like that.
``I played some of my best hockey in that role.''
Bonk was a consistent 20-goal scorer in Ottawa, but he slipped to 12 goals and 32 assists in 66 games last season. With a $3.5 million US salary, he was harshly criticized.
In Montreal, he will likely be put into a two-way role, with less pressure to score. He will become a restricted free agent Wednesday and the Canadiens have indicated they will make him a qualifying offer to keep his rights.
``We made a choice to transfer a player from one position to another,'' said general manager Bob Gainey, who still has room in his budget to make more moves. ``We took an above average backup goalie and turned him into a regular skating centreman.''
In Ottawa, Bonk usually had star Marian Hossa as his right winger. Montreal has Hossa younger brother Marcel in its system.
``I called Marian Hossa and told him it might be fun to play with his brother,'' said Bonk.
I think this 2-way position is good for Bonk, and like they said in the article good to be able to match up a big guy like him against the other big top centers in the east(sundin,Primeau,ect). Putting him at center will also keep Ribeiro on his toes to work hard and contribute cause Bonk has the ability to grab the #2 center job from him, and i'm not sure how it will work out but if we do re-sign sundstrom and he play 3rd line with Bonk it may get Sundstrom going offencivly a bit more cause he does have the offencive skills there, Sundstrom also isn't physical what soever so putting him with Bonk will most likely leave him with more space to work with as Bonk will probly take care of most of the physical work.
Bonk's job. Pressurise Mike Ribeiro. Shut down opponent's best lines. Play 2-way.
Score 15 + goals. Add offence on the 3rd line. Replace Koivu or Ribeiro if they are hurt. Finally, it was the position where we needed the most help. Bonk will help us, a lot!
There's no pressure to score for our checking lines, just our top-6 players. As such, Bulis would get criticized severely when playing with Koivu and not producing but would not when playing in a more defensive role on the 3rd line.
Now for a change, unlike Juneau and Dowd, we actually have a 3rd line center who has the talent to create things offensively so he's not completely one-dimentional on the ice and can play a sound 2-way game.
Bonk was not used properly in Ottawa. He's not a #1 center. He's an above average 3rd line center who can fill in as a top-6 in case of injury and not look out of place. There won't be any pressure on him to score whatsoever, just to play well in all 3 zones and do the things CJ will want him to do, one of which will certainly be to use his size to contain the Thornton's and Sundin's of the league, a thing we have always struggled with before.
There won't be pressure on him if he's on our checking line. That would be ********.
What I expect of Bonk is to play a good 20 minutes a game while playing against the best lines and shutting them down while playing on the PK and on the second PP unit thus allowing Ribeiro and Koivu to play together again on our first unit. When Ribeiro was centering that first pp unit and Koivu was at the point we had one of the best pp in the whole league.
I like the addition of bonk for survival reasons. He will give us 3 solid scoring lines. He will give us some nice options on the power play aswell as the penaltie kill. Who knows maybe it will convince kovalev to stay in montreal because we actualy have a team that can maybe compete for top spot in the eastern conference. Bonk will just gives some balance in our line up. Very good move by bob gainey.
Newsflash: He WAS a backup on this team. Playing 21 games means you were a backup. He said "above-average", which means that maybe he could be more, if you ask me. But with Theodore, there was no need to consider giving him a shot at the starting job here.
Huet's good. His numbers dipped late in the season when the Kings tanked. He was up at about a .914 SV% for most of the year.