After a first few near-disastrous seasons with the Ottawa Senators, it looked like Radek Bonk was going to be considered a draft day bust.
In his first year with the team, he scored only three goals and had 11 points in the lockout-shortened season in 1993-94. Not a good start for a number three overall draft pick.
In fact, in his first five seasons with the Sens, his best year was his sophomore season, and he only had 16 goals and 35 points.
But whoever said patience is a virtue, must have been talking about dealing with NHL prospects. Something seemed to click with Bonk in 1999. That season saw him score 23 goals and finish with 60 points. He also became the one of the team’s top shutdown players.
For the next four years, Bonk never scored less than 22 goals. In 2001-02, he set a career high with 70 points.
Bonk ranks seventh all-time in goals, fourth in assists and fourth in points all-time.
It was in the playoffs that Bonk struggled the most. In his first five playoff years, he scored a total of one assist in 24 games. He turned it around in the 2002 playoffs, when he had 10 points in 12 games. The following year, he had 11 points in 18 games.
A lot of teams would have given up on a young player who struggled through his first five seasons in the league. The Sens deserve credit for being patient, and waiting for Bonk to become a complete all-around player.