B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence


B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence

Things have started out very promisingly for rookie forward and top Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner.
The 20-year-old is tied with Max Sauve for the P-Bruins team lead with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in Providences first four games of the season, and has teamed with Sauve and Jamie Tardif for a consistently productive line. The trio has accounted for at least one goal in each of Providences four games thus far, and Spooner has been among the most active with eight shots on net.
The 2010 second round pick isnt taking anything for granted, of course, and wants to keep developing and pushing until he finds himself in the NHL. It might not be that far off with his ability to shift gears and speeds quickly on the ice, and his Krejci-like skill at slowing things down when the puck is on his stick.
It took until Providences first win against the Manchester Monarchs last weekend for Spooner to crack the goal column, but hes making plays in every single game.
Ive been working hard to get to this point over the last few years, and now you look forward to the challenge at this level, said Spooner. I want to prove that I can be a consistent, dependable player at both ends of the ice, and just keep getting bigger, faster, stronger and better.
The goal is to get to the NHL someday soon, but Im happy developing my game and continuing to improve until that opportunity arrives. This is a great league were playing in this year, and my complete focus is on where Im at right now.
It was thought that Chris Bourque would start the season riding shotgun with Spooner on the same line in Providence, but that hasnt happened through the first four games. It hasnt stopped Bourque from recognizing what Spooner is bringing to the table at such a precocious young age.
Hes definitely impressive. He has good speed and sees the ice really well, said Bourque. I didnt know much about him at all before I got here. Hes an impressive player. We expect big things from him and hes definitely going to be able to help the team out.
Im excited to teach him things about becoming a pro and guiding him in the right direction; the kind of things guys helped me out with when I was a young player.
Its not surprising given Spooners skating ability and playmaking sense, and the mere fact that he put up seven points in eight games during two quick AHL stints over the previous two seasons. So Spooner is already a point-per-game player early in his pro career, and just needs to show Bruins officials that he understands what it means to be a professional hockey player.
That includes all of the little things hell need to do to stick at the NHL level, and that goes doubly so for young players breaking into Claude Juliens two-way system in Boston. Interestingly enough, there are two prospects at opposite ends of the spectrum after four games: Spooner is a point-per-game player and Jared Knight is a minus-2 after two games while missing time with some groin issues.
Some guys get off to a great start and then tail off over a long year. Other guys it takes a little while to get going, said Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney. What we want to see is consistency. Its a big jump and its a tough league, and an even bigger jump is coming with the next one. So we want them to be prepared mentally and physically.
Maybe guys arent on the first unit like theyve been accustomed to all through junior. Maybe theyre on the second unit. But dont pout about it. Youve got to embrace it because its a unique league: youre competing against all of the guys on your own team as well trying to win collectively. The quicker a player realizes that component the better it is for their development. How quickly they get to the NHL depends on their work habits on and off the ice, their training ability and their skill.
It also doesnt hurt that young prospects like Spooner have the Full Monty of Bruins front office types with Sweeney, Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning, Claude Julien and the rest of the Bs coaching staff front and center while the NHL lockout rages on. Thats allowed Spooner to put himself into the conversation for a training camp invite once the NHL season gets started, and remain there provided he keeps playing high high-flying game in Providence against some very good AHL competition.

Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot


Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – With the Celtics waiving Ben Bentil on Friday, Danny Ainge confirmed what has been reported for weeks: the final roster spot for the Celtics will come down to James Young and R.J. Hunter.

“It’ll probably go down to the wire, down to Monday,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.

Boston currently has 16 players in camp with guaranteed contracts. The league-maximum of 15 players has to be met by Monday at 5 p.m.

“We’re continuing to evaluate and look for opportunities out there,” Ainge said. “If there are any deals to be had which we’ve been looking for, for a few months. Both of those guys [Hunter and Young[ have played very well and have made the decision very difficult.”

Having to make a tough call at the end of training camp is nothing new to Ainge.

But this time around is very unique.

It’s highly unusual for a team to have to waive a former first-round pick that they selected.

Young was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by Boston, while Hunter was selected by the Celtics with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“Sometimes the decision is made for me. It’s really easy,” said Ainge. “But this year it hasn’t been that way. Both of those guys have had some outstanding moments in practice, in training camp and in games. So it’s been challenging.”

Boston being in this roster conundrum is due to having lots of draft picks in recent years that either didn’t turn into impact players initially, or were unable to be flipped for more established talent via trade.

In Young’s draft class, Boston selected him with the 17th pick after picking Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick.

And in 2015, Boston picked Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick and Hunter with the 28th overall selection. In the second round of that draft, Boston nabbed Jordan Mickey with the 33rd overall pick and Marcus Thornton at No. 45.

Last year’s draft was an even bigger haul for the Celtics, who went into the draft with a record-eight picks.

They traded two of the picks to Memphis, but used the other six which included Jaylen Brown with the third overall selection.

Ainge reiterated that the Celtics like what both players are doing, but doesn’t anticipate a trade scenario presenting itself that would result in both players sticking with the team.

“Unlikely, but always possible,” said Ainge when asked if it were possible for both to remain Celtics.

Both players are still on their rookie contracts, so that along with the increased salary cap teams have now makes each of them a low-risk addition.

However, most of the teams in the NBA have a full roster and the ones that don’t have a couple players in mind to fill out whatever openings exist.

That means there’s a decent chance that Hunter or Young will be waived, clear waivers and can then sign with a team of their choosing.

It sounds good, only if there’s a team to sign with which as stated earlier, is far from a given.