By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Not only is Ryan Spooner unlikely to be traded this offseason, but the much-maligned forward is on track to sign a new one-or-two-year deal with the Bruins. Even wilder is that the two sides may be forced into a salary arbitration hearing. (UPDATE: The Bruins and Spooner avoided arbitration with a new one-year deal worth $2.825 million.)
Based on the latest reports, Spooner and the Bruins may be too far apart to avoid salary arbitration, which would begin on Wednesday if they can’t agree on a deal. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted on Monday that the Bruins offered Spooner a one-year deal worth $2 million, but Spooner’s camp is asking for $3.85 million.
When looking purely at Spooner’s recent production and analyzing other deals signed by similar young players, the Bruins’ $2 million offer could actually be seen as a bit low.
The Wild’s Jason Zucker, 25, re-signed for two years and $4 million after scoring just 23 points with a minus-5 rating in 71 games in 2015-16. Spooner has scored 49 and 39 points in each of the last two seasons, albeit with a combined minus-17 rating and continued criticisms over his defensive play and lack of consistency.
Spooner’s offer of $3.85 million would carry the same annual cap hit as the Golden Knights’ Cody Eakin, who played the first season of a four-year, $15.4 million deal with the Stars before being selected in the NHL Expansion Draft. Eakin, 26, has put up similar point totals to Spooner in his career with an 82-game average of about 33 points, but is known as a more dependable, versatile two-way player.
The ask of $3.85 million from Spooner is just below the threshold (about $4 million) whereby the Bruins could “walk away” from the offer after it is awarded, essentially making any agreement reached in arbitration legally binding. Something in-between the two numbers would ultimately be fair when compared to other recent deals. Regardless of how you personally feel about Spooner, he’s been one of the Bruins’ better contributors on the power play; he tied for second on the team last season with 15 power play assists.
But of course, if Spooner ends up staying for the 2017-18 season, the main issue is where he would ultimately fit into the Bruins lineup. Unless he makes a surprising push to play left wing alongside David Krejci, he would appear destined for the third line – and it may not be as a center.
At the end of the day, the Bruins don’t appear terribly eager to make Spooner part of their future plans. The best result may be that the Bruins can still find a suitor in a trade, if only so both sides can simply move on.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @Dolloff985 and email him at email@example.com.