With news of Ryan Spooner being placed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers on Monday once again reminding the hockey world that Peter Chiarelli should stop making one-for-one trades, it’s also led to questions regarding Spooner’s future.
While a reunion with the Boston Bruins is a logical talking point given the fact that he was drafted by the team and spent the first five-plus seasons of his career in Boston, it would not be a good idea for general manager Don Sweeney to put in a waiver claim.
When the Bruins traded Spooner to the New York Rangers last season, he was playing in his best stretch of hockey since entering the NHL. He had scored nine goals and 25 points in 39 games and looked comfortable on a line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
The Bruins would capitalize on Spooner’s value at the time and use him as a major piece in the deal that saw Rick Nash traded to Boston. Spooner didn’t disappoint in New York either as he would score four goals and 16 points in 20 games after being acquired by the team.
Spooner played so well, in fact, that he earned himself a two-year contract worth $8 million as a result. It’s that contract that makes a Spooner reunion in Boston such an ill-advised idea on paper though.
Spooner Wouldn’t Answer the Bruins Need at Center
Though Spooner is a center, the Bruins got the most out of him when they used him on the wing. For that reason, claiming him on waivers to fill their third-line center role wouldn’t be the best move given the fact that he’s probably better suited out of his natural position.
In that respect, Spooner’s ability to contribute on the wing and history of success with Krejci last season may seem appealing. Still, it’s entirely possible that Spooner’s breakout campaign was nothing more than a player shining during a contract year; a concept that’s far from foreign in the NHL.
Offensively, Spooner has proven he can be a solid contributor and even earned himself a permanent role on the Bruins’ top power-play unit during his time with the team. Defensively, however, Spooner has always left a lot to be desired.
That’s always been his biggest knock.
Unfortunately, the defense hasn’t improved and the offense has fallen off significantly.
While there’s a legitimate chance that the 26-year-old can find his footing and bounce back from this season-long slump, the Bruins would be best suited to let another team take him on as a reclamation project.
An expensive reclamation project at that.
Bruins Need Help but Spooner Isn’t the Answer
The Bruins will undoubtedly need to make a trade or two in the future to address needs at center and right wing. This isn’t a secret and the longer the Bruins go without a legitimate fix, the higher the asking price will become.
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That doesn’t mean the team should just jump on any available player and bank on them being the answer moving forward, though, especially not when that player wasn’t even the answer during his best stretch in a spoked-B jersey.
To put it simply, Spooner just isn’t the player that will move the needle for the Bruins.
When taking into account the fact that the Bruins will need to hand out new contracts to a plethora of young talent next season, taking on Spooner’s contract seems even more ill-advised.
Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Peter Cehlarik are all in need of new deals heading into the offseason (that doesn’t even include a potential extension for Zdeno Chara or Noel Acciari).
An extra $4 million cap hit for a “what-if” type player isn’t the most financially sound investment the team can make. Especially not if the team has eyes on a big fish on the trade market, even after missing out on Nino Niederreiter.
The Bruins traded Spooner when his value was as high as it’s ever been. Instead of revisiting him, the team should be happy they made the right decision at the right time and continue moving forward.