New Ranger Nick Bonino glad to be reunited with Peter Laviolette

For a minute or two, Nick Bonino experienced some déjà vu all over again.

“Being out there on the ice, listening to what he’s saying and how he’s saying it, I can remember him saying almost the exact same stuff when we were together in Nashville,” Nick Bonino told The Post, when asked about head coach Peter Laviolette following Saturday’s training camp session. “It’s nice to come to a new team and have that sense of familiarity.”

The feeling is mutual. Bonino, who played for Laviolette with the Predators in 2017-18 and 2018-19, and defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who played for him last season in Washington, are the only two players who have experience with this head coach.

“I think there’s an advantage where I’ve worked with Nick before and the same with Gustafsson,” Laviolette said. “They’ve been kind of in the system with me before, and so they know it. I think that it helps with messaging inside the room.”

The 35-year-old fourth-line center signed a one-year free agent deal with the Blueshirts for $800,000.

Veteran center Nick Bonino battles for the puck with Jacob Trouba during a game last season. Now he's teammates with the Rangers' captain.
Veteran center Nick Bonino battles for the puck with Jacob Trouba during a game last season. Now he’s teammates with the Rangers’ captain.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

He was coming off a two-year deal worth an annual AAV of $2.05 million that followed a four-year contract for $4.1M per year.

He did not dally when the Blueshirts showed interest on July 1.

“For me, with a family, with three kids, my goal was to sign as quickly as I could with a team that wanted me, to be able to set them up in school and get a place,” Bonino said. “Logistically there’s a lot more that goes on for me than 10 years ago.

“I’m happy it worked out with the Rangers quickly. A lot of depth guys and older guys are getting squeezed with this cap, and especially when you’re an older depth guy, especially. So I’m happy I’m getting a chance here.

“I feel like I still have a lot of good hockey in me,” the new No. 12 said. “I was happy to put the contract stuff behind me so I could get ready for this.”

Bonino will anchor the fourth unit that will have Tyler Pitlick on the right and either Jimmy Vesey or Barclay Goodrow on the left. The Boston University product — who shared a college locker room with one-time Blueshirts Christopher Higgins, Matt Gilroy and Kevin Shattenkirk — will kill penalties and be relied upon in the faceoff circle.

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette
Rangers coach Peter Laviolette
Robert Sabo for NY Post

“I think Nick brings a lot to the table, too, for different reasons,” Laviolette said. “I think some players are real thinkers of the game, they’re really smart, intelligent hockey players. I would put him in that category as somebody who thinks all the time.

“That’s why he’s out there in crucial situations and playoffs when it comes time to win a championship. That’s been his M.O. He is someone who coaches — I have and other coaches — have relied on to do that job. He’s a good penalty killer, he’s a good faceoff man. He’s detailed with systems.”

Plus, Bonino, who won back-to-back Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017 (defeating Laviolette’s Predators in the final the latter year), can translate Laviolette’s words and maybe even his temperament to his teammates.

“I had a good talk with [Laviolette] the day I signed, just expectation-wise for the year,” said Bonino, who was traded by San Jose back to Pittsburgh at last year’s deadline but was injured three games into his return. “It was more about on-ice stuff, being relied upon defensively and probably for some matchups, faceoffs and the penalty kill.

“I think off the ice he knows I’m always in good spirits. I try to stay upbeat and keep the guys happy and focused. I’m always smiling. So he knows that about me from Nash, and I assume he would expect me to continue that.”

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