Ryan Spooner has been a breath of fresh air for the New York Rangers since the Trade Deadline. Can he fit into the team’s future plans or is he just trade bait?
Current New York Rangers forward Ryan Spooner was a second-round pick in 2010 of the Boston Bruins. Spooner had trouble cracking the lineup early in his career due to his lack of size and lack of trust from the previous coaching staff of Claude Julien.
But Spooner’s offensive game began to do the talking and things really started to take off. His best year to date came in 2015-16 when he recorded 49 points. Spooner only recorded 13 goals that season so clearly, he’s more known for his set up abilities.
Spooner has seen the majority of his career at the center position and held that spot with varying degrees of success. He is a below-average faceoff man percentage-wise and despite posting solid point production, he was a minus in both of those seasons.
But this season, Boston’s new coach, Bruce Cassidy, decided to give Spooner a shot on the wing, and that’s where the magic began to happen. After missing a month with injury earlier this year, Spooner came back to post 22 points in 28 games from late November to the New Year.
Before his trade to New York, Boston fans were clamoring for Spooner to be re-signed. They felt he had finally found a spot in the lineup and the team was reaping the benefits.
Spooner has continued this success on the wing with the New York Rangers. Instantly, he seemed to have found chemistry with Kevin Hayes at center. In the duo’s first three games together, Spooner recorded one goal and six assists. Hayes tallied three goals. Spooner has confidence carrying the puck while looking to find someone to set up.
Now, as the season progressed towards a missed playoff berth, the coaching staff decided to start blending the lineup and experimenting. Seeing time at both center and wing and with a myriad of different linemates, Spooner continued his pace with eight points in 11 games.
So it’s clear Spooner has offensive flair and skill. What does this mean for the Blueshirts going forward? The Rangers could do well moving in two different directions with this player. They most certainly could sign him, maybe a three-or-four-year deal at $3.5 million per season?
Now you’ve got a bona fide playmaker who has experience playing up and down the lineup at two different positions. Not the go-to guy but a nice secondary piece.
Who knows, with a certain player who wears #91 looking to maybe get off the Island, this could be a dynamite fit. Giving Spooner talented linemates clearly pays big dividends to whoever is willing to do so. Again, just take a look at how John Tavares can elevate players to new heights. Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey…
Now the Rangers could also look to move Spooner at the NHL Draft. He has cooled a bit since his first flair in the early five games. Often times fans will misconstrue early success with the ability to all of sudden turn into All-Stars. That typically doesn’t happen. And although it might be reasonable to think Spooner can increase his production, we shouldn’t hold our breaths and expect point-per-game numbers.
The only reasoning for looking to trade Spooner is that he falls under a category where the Rangers are chock full of—players who need elite talent around them to truly succeed.
Without elite talent, Spooner’s ceiling may be in the 40-50 point range and when you boil it down, the Rangers have plenty of those—Kevin Hayes and Vlad Namestnikov, just to name a couple. The need for elite talent is still a gaping hole and if that means trading Spooner to add that talent, then so be it.
All in all, Ryan Spooner has been a tremendous addition this season to the New York Rangers. If Jeff Gorton and company can continue to add some talent and Spooner can find a home playing with top six players then he should definitely be wearing a Blueshirt next season.
But the Rangers need to stay away from a bad contract based on his short audition.