The Boston Bruins are a team that took a pretty sizeable step forward in 2016-17. While they felt the pain of a disappointing defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators in this year’s playoffs, the team has a clear direction and a slow and steady build to a deeper team that can regularly compete in the Eastern Conference is how both GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely have decided they want to go.
The idea in Boston is to build the team finding a good balance between youngsters and a proven core. One area they may look at improving is their need for a left-shot on their blue line and there are a few reports circulating that the Bruins might be looking to outside the organization to fill that need.
Boston is entertaining offers for pending RFA Ryan Spooner. I’ve heard New Jersey, Vancouver and Vegas as potential destinations.
— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) May 4, 2017
Ryan Spooner the Trade Piece?
Ryan Spooner will have some value around the NHL. Only 25-years-old, he’s proven to be effective with a 39-point season in 2016-17 and a 49-point season in 2015-16. Unfortunately, he’s a bit streaky, his production having dipped from last year to this year and having been scratched two times in this year’s playoffs. He was overlooked for players like Matt Beleskey and it’s possible Spooner has fallen out of favor with the Bruins’ brass.
The uncertainty surrounding the young center means trading Spooner’s contract rights make sense from a Bruin’s perspective. A restricted free agent (RFA) in Boston, Spooner will be looking for a new contract. With Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Riley Nash and other up-and-coming youngsters making strides, the team has depth at the center position.
Complicating the matter a bit is the fact that the Bruins will also be handing some pretty good money to RFA winger David Pastrnak. A 34-goal and 70-point season means Pastrnak will be receiving a hefty raise from his current $925k salary. Moving Spooner’s money and contract to improve the team in a position of weakness is an understandable plan.
The trick is determining what a Spooner trade might look like. The most likely option for the Bruins might be a trade with the NHL’s newest franchise in Las Vegas where the Golden Knights will be looking for young assets who can make an impact and offer an option for the Bruins to keep some of their players together come the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Perhaps the Bruins use Spooner as a way to encourage Vegas to take a player of Boston’s choosing instead of losing a player Boston would like to keep.
The question becomes whether Spooner will be enough to get the Bruins what they want and need. The free agent market seems to be thin when it comes to left-handed defensemen and there are teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning who have already offered up players like Jonathan Drouin in an attempt to help their cause. With a player like Drouin potentially available on the trade market, Boston can’t match that value one-for-one, thus it might require being a bit creative.
The End of Spooner in Boston
Regardless of what a trade looks like, it appears that Boston is looking to move Spooner. Sweeney hasn’t been shy about the question marks surrounding Spooner’s future and he definitely hasn’t made it clear that his young center will be staying. Neely has echoed those sentiments and knows that Boston has to use the trade route as an option to find that lefty blueliner or winger to round out the roster.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”