(Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports)
By Court Lalonde (@courtlalonde)
Ryan Spooner has had his ups and down as a Boston Bruin and this year has been no exception. After being selected 45th overall by the Bruins in the 2010 National Hockey League entry draft, he remained in the Ontario Hockey League until his final year of eligibility. Spooner started his pro career with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, lead the team in scoring as a rookie with 17 goals, 40 assists, for 57 points in 59 games. He would get a crack at the Bruins lineup that year and play in four games but held off the score sheet.
He would continue to split his time with the Bruins and their farm team until the 2015-16 NHL season. It would be Spooner’s first full season in the NHL, and he would go on to score 13 goals, 36 assists, for 49 points. The Bruins saw promise in the young center and showed it by giving him time on the power play. When they drafted him, he was known for his hockey IQ, offensive-mind, but lacked size. Producing they way he did in the 2015-16 NHL season, he was proving those critics of his size wrong by utilizing his speed which would allow him to provide an offensive impact.
This year we saw Spooner struggle at the start of the season and play on the wing instead of his natural position of center. In the offseason, the Bruins signed three centermen. They signed David Backes, Riley Nash, Dominic Moore, and you can’t help but wonder what went through Spooner’s head when he saw the news this past summer. I’m sure it had him second guessing himself and if the Bruins had a long-term plan for him. He was still the skilled puck carrier with speed and creativity to make plays happen. He just wasn’t being used that way anymore except on the powerplay. Rumored that he could be a potential trade candidate late into the first month of the regular season but nothing came of it.
Spooner had played for interim head coach Bruce Cassidy before when he was in the minors, so you would assume he saw Cassidy replacing Claude Julien as coach of the Bruins to be a new chance. In 54 games under Julien this year, he had 27 points with points per game average of .50. He was on pace to have a 41 point season, which would have been a setback for his progression. In the seven games under Cassidy, he has two goals and four assists with a plus 1 rating. He is now averaging .86 points per game, which is a considerable improvement in the small sample size.
He seems perfect for this new system that Cassidy has implemented since taking over the duties as coach for the interim and possibly for good. It has allowed Spooner to use his speed and puck-moving skills to his advantage, by making scoring chances happen. Cassidy has put him back in his natural position of center, and we have all seen the constancy from the newly formed VHS line. By allowing our skilled players to skate with the puck and be more aggressive the future looks bright for Spooner in a Bruins jersey.