Oliver Bonk thriving for Knights after World Juniors loss

Oliver Bonk has returned to the London Knights with a vengeance after an early exit of the World Juniors earlier this month.
Oliver Bonk has returned to the London Knights with a vengeance after an early exit of the World Juniors earlier this month. / Dennis Pajot/GettyImages

Oliver Bonk has turned heads with his play for the London Knights this season. Trusted with a larger role, the young defender is used in various roles for the Knights. He recently added power play duties to his arsenal. All of that has culminated in what will easily be a career season for Bonk in his second full season with the Knights.

In 31 games this season, Bonk has nine goals and 38 points. In 67 games last season, he had 10 goals and 40 points. He will shatter those totals this season, especially with the roll he is on right now. His strong season earned him a spot on Team Canada’s roster at the World Juniors. He showed the team during their preliminary camp that he was ready for the opportunity.

Canada came into World Juniors with a tough test ahead of them. Inexperience was their biggest problem as they went with a young team this time. They did well enough during the round-robin but ended up falling out in the quarterfinals. It was Bonk who was, unfortunately, at the center of it. In the game’s final seconds, a Czechia shot on net deflected off Bonk and into the net. It was a devastating way to go out, especially for Bonk. But don’t catch him sitting around and feeling bad about himself. 

“I’ll use this here as motivation,” Bonk said upon his return. “It’s about making sure we don’t forget it, but we’re not going to mope about it and feel bad about ourselves. It was a world-class atmosphere. Sweden’s fans were great. The Canadian fans were awesome and there were a lot of them.

Going back to London, Bonk has let that fuel the remainder of his season. In the three games he has played since coming back, he has three goals and eight points. Two of those goals came on the power play.

Used in the bumper position, Bonk can crash the net for rebounds. On the play above, he skates to the slot where Jacob Julien spins around to find him in front. It's not often you see defensemen being used at places other than the point. But London is reaping the benefits of using Bonk in this way. Eight of Bonk's nine goals have come on the man advantage. He is second on the team in power-play goals and is tied with fellow Flyers' prospect Denver Barkey for the team lead in power-play points. If the Knights have a power play and Bonk is out there, you can usually expect him to factor into a goal. They have the OHL's best unit in the league, and it is easy to see why.

Bonk still has time to further develop in the OHL. He will almost certainly return to the Knights for another season. The Flyers are stacked on defense right now, but have multiple free agents coming up on the backend. They also have players like Ronnie Attard and Helge Grans waiting in the wings. There is no rush for Bonk to jump to the professional leagues.

If he's playing the way he is now, there's no doubt he can only get better with another year of development. The Flyers have to be happy with what he's doing right now. The selection of Bonk is looking better and better with each passing day.