By agreeing to a deal and avoiding a potentially awkward arbitration hearing, the Bruins set themselves up nicely for both the present and the future.
The Bruins and Ryan Spooner agreed to a one-year, $2.825 million contract on Wednesday morning, shortly before an arbitration hearing was set to begin.
At a glance, the deal looks like it benefits both sides:
- Spooner gets a raise of almost $2 million and is back in a familiar NHL situation
- The Bruins get a valuable offensive asset at a fair price
I’m happy. You’re happy. We’re all happy.
In the end, however, it’s the Bruins who should be really happy: they kept an asset under their control, and may have made him even more valuable in the process.
Here’s why the Bruins should view this as a “win.”
Spooner remains under the Bruins’ control
The Bruins opted to sign Spooner to a one-year deal instead of a two-year contract, and it probably wasn’t an accident: at the end of the one-year deal, he’ll have six years of NHL service under his belt.
Players don’t reach unrestricted free agency in the NHL until they’ve completed seven years of play or reach the age of 27 (which Spooner won’t reach until January of 2019).
(So yes, we could do this whole thing again next summer, albeit without the arbitration part. Can’t wait!)
However, it also means that the Bruins are keeping Spooner, a valuable asset regardless of what you think about his overall game, under their control for another season.
This gives the Bruins flexibility: if Spooner plays out of his mind this season, they can offer him a long-term deal. If he has a bad year, they can take him to arbitration and try again, or cut bait.
Spooner was signed to a “tradeable” deal
The $2.825 million figure isn’t just friendly to the Bruins’ salary cap: it also makes Spooner easier to trade, be it this summer, during the season or at the deadline.
A guy like Spooner is going to draw interest from other teams. He’s a great skater, a talented passer and a good power play weapon.
Had they gone to arbitration and had the Salary Arbitrator agreed to Spooner’s near-$4 million ask, that contract wouldn’t be terribly palatable for a potential suitor.
However, several teams would be interested in a ~40 point offensive talent for a sub-$3 million price tag.
Plus, the contract comes into play again: a team may pay a bit more for an asset that will be under control for another season (or at least an asset that they can take to arbitration again).
The salary isn’t prohibitive
Spooner may think he’s worth a little more, but $2.825 million really isn’t a bad deal for either side.
For the Bruins, it’s hard to be mad at that figure. They’ll still have somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million in cap space to get David Pastrnak signed, with a little change left over.
They also are paying less than $3 million for a guy who’s good for somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 points, maybe more if he puts all of his skills together.
(When you consider David Backes’ contract, and the fact that Spooner had one point more than him in last year’s regular season, that figure looks downright appealing.)
A talented offensive player with room to improve, who, if nothing else, is a power play weapon...for under $3 million.
Can’t hate that.