Let’s be honest here: The Boston Bruins received an enormous amount of backlash for dealing Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars this past offseason.
Arguably, Seguin was the most skilled offensive player to come through this town in years…and it was all thanks to a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs involving Phil Kessel and a plethora of draft picks.
If you look at the 2014-15 season for the B’s, a lot of young stars have emerged. Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton are the top two defensemen in scoring. Also, young David Pastrnak has broken out in what was dubbed as an impossible situation to succeed in because of the way B’s head coach Claude Julien runs things. The 18-year-old forward has nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points in his rookie year thus far.
As of late, the Black and Gold have decided to no longer ignore the obvious talent that they have had within their system for the last five years. Ryan Spooner will be a mainstay with this roster going forward. “I think everybody knows that he [Spooner] is playing well. I’m going to be honest with you: he’s not coming out of the lineup playing the way he is,” said Julien. He was referring to the impending return of David Krejci, which has yet to happen.
In the month of March alone, Spooner has posted four goals and five assists. The biggest improvement in his game is his ability to play defensive hockey, something that he struggled with earlier in the year.
With the way that his career has gone so far with the Bruins, the 23-year-old center has shown flashes of a young Marc Savard.
When “Savvy” came over from the Atlanta Thrashers during the summer of 2006, he immediately made an impact, leading the team that year with 96 points. However, he was a minus-19 rating. After notching a couple of seasons within Julien’s system, he became a plus player in all but one year when he was playing with the Bruins, which included a plus-25 rating during the 2008-09 season.
Doubters and naysayers said that Spooner could not succeed in Julien’s system. Savard was one of the most open and offensive-minded players you will ever come across, yet he learned to play responsible hockey in Boston. “Spoons” can do that here, too.
Both skaters stand at 5’10” and both are incredibly skilled playmaking centers. Also, both Savard and Spooner developed chemistry with Milan Lucic on that top line. More importantly, both players are magicians on the power play. With Savard, the Bruins would consistently be ranked in the top 10 in scoring. Although the B’s currently rank 19th in goals per game, they rank near the bottom of the league in power play opportunities. Spooner does indeed get his chances.
If you look at their respective first breakout years in the American Hockey League (when they each played a minimum of 50 games), the numbers almost align with one another. During the 1997-98 season when Savard played for the Hartford Wolf Pack, he recorded 21 goals and 53 assists in 58 games. For Spooner, he posted 17 goals and 40 assists in 59 games for the Providence Bruins in 2012-13.
Eerily comparable similarities, right?
Savard, 37, will probably never skate in another NHL game due to his post-concussion symptoms that he has been experiencing since taking a devastating head shot from Matt Cooke back in March of 2010. He did return briefly in 2011, but another shot to the head by former Bruin Mat Hunwick all but ended his NHL career.
Yes, the Bruins have had a tough stretch of games, losing to the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators. This past weekend was none better. After falling to the Florida Panthers in a shootout on Saturday and getting obliterated on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they are only one point ahead of the Sens for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Spooner has been one of the lone bright spots. The playoffs are on the horizon, and now the Bruins have the offensive depth to compete down the stretch to secure that second wild card spot. Depending on the potential first-round matchup, the B’s could be in for a battle….if they make it that far.
He has earned a spot on this roster with the way he is progressing as a well-rounded hockey player. With Carl Soderberg and Gregory Campbell becoming unrestricted free agents at the end of this season, the Bruins will have some choices to make. To draw another parallel, this situation took place when Savard, Krejci, Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, and Blake Wheeler were all on the roster for the 2010-11 season.
A series of circumstances aligned everything the way it was supposed to. We can count on a replica of good fortune this time around as well.
We all miss number 91, but number 51 is maturing before our eyes. This is a player that the Bruins need for years to come. Upper management within the B’s organization should do the right thing and keep Spooner beyond this season. A potential All-Star and point-per-game player at the NHL level is at your disposal.
Does that remind you of anyone? “Savvy.”