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Is it time to move Ryan Spooner?

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One of the more skilled point-getting forwards the Bruins have could be a tantalizing pickup for desperate teams. Can the Bruins capitalize on what they have?

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs

Before I go anywhere I need to make this clear.

The writing of this is not an indictment on Ryan Spooner. Ryan Spooner is a solid NHLer.

On most nights, he is a player that pushes possession in the right direction. On the power play, he can be one of the better puck-movers and space creators you can ask for. He is one of the hardest fought roster spots the Bruins have ever had.

He is also a 49 point-getter last year, sharing the wealth overwhelmingly and making players look good while around him. A number of players in his position as either third line center or 2nd line wing often fall short of that mark. He is good.

This article explores the reasons it may be fruitful to give him a new place to go for the benefit of the Bruins and himself.

Too many Centers, Too many Wingers (in the future, anyway):

Simply put, there are far too many quality players at forward both on the roster. the minors, and in juniors/European development right now waiting for their shot, and many more coming into the more immediate pipeline next year. Many of whom can play the wing and well, which is where Ryan Spooner is.

Spooner, for those keeping score, is/was/will probably always be a natural center that, while clearly learning a lot and knowing how to work play on the boards pretty well, has been up and down while playing at wing, and playing him at his natural position just isn’t a logical idea at the moment. Boston is currently inundated at center. They have centers for their centers. This over-saturation at the position has meant players have to occasionally converted to wing duty, which has had mixed results in the early goings. And he is no exception to this.

Meanwhile, players like Frank Vatrano, Peter Cehlarik and Jake DeBrusk continue to only get more seasoned and more developed at this role that they’re naturally inclined to at the AHL/NHL level. In a year’s time, one of those three might make the team full-time. In two years? two could be around. Three? Maybe all of them. And that might not be so good for Spooner.

Money Troubles:

The Bruins have about 4 million dollars in Cap Space right now. They could have a much higher number, but circumstances (and presumably player agents who have bent Don Sweeney’s ear backwards) have left the Bruins overpaying for at least two players in a gigantic way. End of the year? This leaves about 11 million in cap space by year’s end. This puts them in a bit of a bind because they have to re-sign a few players lest they lose them to the Vegas [TO BE DETERMINED]. Specifically one David Pastrnak, who currently commands almost 25% of all goals scored by the Boston Bruins in the 2016-2017 season in spite of having missed time and gone on a scoring drought. If he keeps pace, he will have earned his raise, and it will not be a small one.

Spooner, who is making 950k and will be an RFA, would likely be looking for a second/third liner contract, which can command a hefty price in today’s NHL. Unless he suddenly begins scoring on every power play the Bruins put him out there for, Spooner will likely be on the outside looking in for a better contract.

Greener Pastures are out there for him:

This isn’t a slight against Claude, but his system isn’t likely to support him anymore.

...Not that Claude won’t occasionally slight Spooner’s effort.

Oh sure, he’ll still play fine (in fact, he’s playing better AS a winger than being a “natural” center) and on the Power Play he’ll still be quite an offensive dynamo...but he’s not getting the help he might need defensively by being here anymore. The best shot he has is a combo of David Krejci and David Backes (who...aren’t very strong defensively), or playing with say...Riley Nash and Matt Beleskey? Two players who might be fine to pick up his defensive slack but don’t shoot the puck all that often? The line he’s on right now sure as hell isn’t exactly going to give that to him either.

Meanwhile...There are plenty of pretty darn good teams that still need goals. And 5-on-5 offense. And power play “QBs” that can create assists in meaningful, scoring-chance creating ways, something to get a decent team scoring. And Ryan Spooner fits that bill pretty well! I’m sure a team could part with...say...a defenseman!

...which brings me to my next point.

The Need for a Defenseman is now a priority:

I mean...you’ve been watching the last couple of games, right

Boston DESPERATELY needs a player on defense. Chara’s both old, hurt, and while still pretty good he’s not the immortal shot suppressing god he once was. John-Michael Liles is still somewhat struggling on concussion issues for the time being. Currently the best defenseman Boston has for good shutdown play is a rookie one year out of the WHL or a player that gets continually bounced up and down the lineup. Waiting for Carlo, Zboril, McAvoy O’Gara, Gryzelcyk or Arnesson to get NHL-Ready is no longer an option in the short-term if they want to continue to vie for playoff contention. Someone needs to either make a massive leap, or there’s potential the season’s going to go south in a big, bad way. Like it did last year.

Spooner is a perfectly good player. He struggled mightily to acheive the notice he deserves, has contributed greatly for the Bruins in the past and currently, and is a quality player. But he is not the priority signing anymore. He does not bring anything another player can’t, and keeping him around at this rate would only complicate a cap situation already rather tumultuous to begin with.

It’s not you, Spoons. It might just be Boston.