Throughout Bruins Development Camp, NEHJ's Kirk Luedeke and Jesse Connolly will be profiling the participants. Today, they're looking at Ryan Spooner, an offensively gifted, 20-year-old center who will be pushing to make the big club this fall.
Ryan Spooner, C, Sarnia Sting/Kingston Frontenacs
5-11, 185 Jan. 30, 1992 in Kanata, Ontario
GP 57 G 29 A 37 PTS 66 PIM 16
Drafted: 2nd round, 45th overall, in 2010
Strengths: Blazing skater is both fast and elusive with the ability to separate from defenders with a breakaway gear, but can also shake opponents with shifty, rapid changes in direction. Deft stick handler who attacks the net with dazzling moves. Effective playmaker who has a superb feel for the flow of the play and can exploit seams and passing lanes in defenses with a soft touch for tape-to-tape passes. Quick release; not afraid to get the puck on net and likes to shoot rather than always looking for open teammates. Arguably Boston's top offensive prospect with the speed and skill to back defenses up and generate quality scoring chances. A conscientious player with the desire to improve his all-around game.
Weaknesses: Average size, but Spooner recently was measured at a shade under 6-foot, so he has grown about an inch since being drafted. Won't ever have ideal size or the strength to play a physical game in the NHL, so will need to play effectively in space. Defensive play has markedly improved since becoming a Boston prospect but is still a work in progress.
Projection: Top-six forward and power play ace after some developmental time in the AHL. The size will be a question for Spooner until he establishes himself at the NHL level, but at around 6-feet, he's more than equipped to be an impact player at the highest level.
While he does have a leg up on plenty of the competition in terms of experience, Spooner's slick offensive abilities are a notch above just about everyone taking part in d-camp.
Throughout the array of drills in the first few days of camp, his killer wheels -- both in terms of acceleration and smooth skating style -- were on full display. A crisp passer and effective shooter, the center's best asset is his stick-handling skills -- the highlight moment coming on Day 1 of camp when he juked Malcolm Subban out of position for a sweet backhanded goal on a breakaway drill.
It's obvious that Spooner's style is never going to be akin to a bull in a china shop, but everything he's shown in the OHL and in multiple camps with Boston indicates he should be able to overcome his size disadvantage.
On where Spooner's at compared to last year...
Ryan’s a really, really talented player. You see the plays he makes on the ice and the speed he makes, that’s the stuff you get really excited about. And we’ve had the benefit of having him in Providence for periods of time in the last two years as well and playing some games, and getting him to understand the habits, the habits probably without the puck are going to dictate, you know, when he arrives at the National Hockey League level and the strength, he’s going to have to add strength.
On how close Spooner is to taking the next
Well, Spooner is - two years in a row he’s come down, very creative - made some no-look passes that some of the other players in our club just don’t have the ability to make. And it’s one of his best gifts. The difference I noticed from last spring to the previous one was his attention to detail - away from the puck, he’s starting to become more of a student of the game. A year older, he wants to know positionally where to be – have a good stick – the things that he’s going to need to do when the offense dries up in spurts. I noticed that difference about him. He shoots the puck better than he did the year before.
And just – you see him now – when he walked through the door two years ago he’s got - he looked like a 14-year-old kid. Now at least he’s starting –he’s got a little peach fuzz on his face – he looks, he’s starting to look like a little bit of a man now so that’s the biggest things I noticed about Spoons.