Boston Bruins

Arniel's aim: Earn a spot with the Bruins


Arniel's aim: Earn a spot with the Bruins

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Jamie Arniel took a pretty big leap forward last year, and is looking for more this season.

The Bruins forward notched 50 points for the Providence Bruins as a 21-year-old, and even earned a token appearance in Boston when a couple of injuries created an opening on the roster.

In terms of a confidence booster, it was exactly what the doctor ordered.

The season of experiences also sweetened Arniels taste for life in the NHL and made him determined to earn himself a permanent in the worlds best hockey league. With a pair of 30 goal seasons in the OHL and finished last season as the leading goal-scorer on the Providence Bruins with 23 strikes.

The versatile forward able to play center and wing also earned himself a much longer look at this years training camp with the expectation hell once again find himself in Boston if adversity hits this year. Arniel took it as a big positive that he made it past the big roster cut on Friday night, and he wants to continue making a strong impression in the final four exhibition games.

Its definitely good when you survive a big cut and there are only so many guys left, said Arniel. Ive just got to continue doing what Ive done so far. For me its about being consistent and bringing the same thing every night.

Coming in for the playoffs last year was a big boost and was very exciting for me. It shows you what can happen if you work hard in hockey, and it made me that much more excited for this year. It gave me a little extra boost for this yearthats for sure.

While Arniel hasnt been able to bury any of the offensive chances that have come his way during his preseason appearances, coach Claude Julien has been impressed with his body of work in camp. Arniel has good skating speed on his sturdy 5-foot-11, 183-pound frame and a hard, accurate shot, but he also boasts some pretty good hockey sense coming from a hockey family that includes his uncle Scott still calling the shots as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Jamie really had a tremendous year last year. I think as far as progressing, hes a really good skater, hes got good speed, and from watching him in practice hes got a quick release. Hes got a really good shot and I think its about giving him a little bit of time, said Julien. Ive found that -- maybe the last little while -- fatigue is set in a little bit with him and hes slowed down maybe half of a step. But hes going to pick it up again.

I dont mind his game at all. Hes a smart player, hes a gritty player, hes not afraid to use his speed along the boards and take it from the outside to bring it to the net. Hes got a lot of upside to him and certainly Ive seen him back-check and really take a real serious look at that part of his game. He wants to excel there as well.

That might just prove Arniels hockey smarts in and of itself as any player knows the first way to Juliens coaching heart is through extra effort and responsible, selfless back-checking up and down the ice.

The shot, the skating, the hockey IQ and the defensive knowhow make for a nice package of skills that should be NHL-worthy. But Arniel admits the realization that there arent many job openings on Bostons roster coming out of camp. Thats whats called the only downside to being a part of a deep, well-run organization coming off a Stanley Cup-winning season, and Arniel will gladly take it as trade off for being one of the Black Aces during last years Cup journey.

This is a hard team to crack. Thats for sure, said Arniel. But if I do or if anybody else does its an accomplishment because this is the best hockey team in the world. Theyre Stanley Cup champs.

The AHL breakthrough, the NHL debut and the front row seat to the Stanley Cup championship made for a truly special season for Arniel last year. But it doesnt leave many places for the Ontario native to improve aside from locking up a full-time gig in the NHL.

That becomes this years goal for Arniel before its all said and done.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Star players must get more involved in CBA negotiations to make Olympics a reality


Morning Skate: Star players must get more involved in CBA negotiations to make Olympics a reality

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling that we’re just now learning about the massive rap skills of the brotherly duo of Andrew and Pete Frates. 


*Ken Campbell from the Hockey News says that if influential players, like Connor McDavid, want to go to the Olympics then they need to get more involved in the CBA negotiations


*Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang shows what a class act he is by taking the Stanley Cup to a children’s hospital in Montreal.


*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Minnesota Wild looking to find long term deals for both restricted free agents Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter. That was pretty clear when they chose to deal off Marco Scandella in order to clear up some cap space to afford both of them. 


*The Edmonton Oilers are going to face higher expectations for next season, and are willing to embrace that kind of pressure.


*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Craig Custance wonders aloud whether there will be any offer sheets coming for restricted free agents. I appreciate Craig wanting to add a little more intrigue to the NHL’s offseason, but it isn’t going to happen as long as GMs are treated like they have small pox once they go that route with an offer sheet. Take a look at the future job prospects for general managers that went with offer sheets in the past, and you’ll see why GMs simply don’t do them. This is why the Bruins are uncomfortable with David Pastrnak sitting unsigned as a restricted free agent, but not overly concerned that he’s going to sign a mega-offer sheet elsewhere.  


*The CCM hockey brand is apparently changing hands from its former home at Adidas


*For something completely different: Speaking of Pete Frates, MLB has announced a fundraising drive for ALS research in his name. 

Haggerty: Spooner deal represents his last chance with Bruins


Haggerty: Spooner deal represents his last chance with Bruins

The Bruins and Ryan Spooner wisely came to a contract agreement on a one-year, $2.825 million deal just prior to the start of Wednesday’s arbitration hearing. Don Sweeney hasn’t yet taken a B’s player to arbitration during his three years running the Black and Gold, and it could have grown unnecessarily contentious with a player like Spooner if they’d been forced to point out his flaws as a player in the uncomfortable setting of an arbitration hearing.

“It’s a fair deal for both sides in our opinion,” said Spooner’s agent Murray Kuntz to CSN after the one-year contract had been agreed upon. 

Now that Spooner has been signed to the one-year deal, it represents the last chance for the 25-year-old to show some growth as a player if he wants to be a member of the Bruins for much. Spooner has averaged 12 goals and 44 points over the last two seasons as Boston’s third line center, and has amassed 35 PP points while serving as the trigger man on Boston’s power play from the right-side half-wall. 

But he dropped from 49 points two seasons ago to 39 points last year, and didn’t exactly flourish under the more offensive-minded coaching of Bruce Cassidy. 

Spooner is an excellent special teams player and has been one of the key ingredients in Boston finishing with the NHL’s 7th ranked power play in each of the last two seasons. But he tailed off badly late last season after suffering a concussion, and showed so much tentativeness in his overall game that he became a healthy scratch by the end of Boston’s first round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. Spooner also continues to sit under a 40 percent success rate in the face-off circle, and shows little consistent interest in winning one-on-one battles anywhere along the ice.

The work on the draws is something, in particular, that comes down to hard work and diligence at practice, and should be an area Spooner can become at least average while practicing every day against a face-off maestro like Patrice Bergeron.  

All of this might be easier to overlook if he consistently utilized his excellent skating speed and considerable skill level to create offense during 5-on-5 play, but that hasn’t been the case enough over the last couple of seasons. A one-year deal for $2.85 gives Spooner one last opportunity to show some growth in those areas with the Bruins, and if he doesn’t then it should be fully expected the Bruins will rekindle trade discussions around Spooner. 

His situation is unmistakable: Spooner isn't going to be a top-6 center with the B's because Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are firmly entrenched at this spots, and Spooner really doesn't have the right skill set to be a fourth line center. So it's third line center or bust for Spooner as the internal competition grows around him. 

Spooner is now 25 years old and should no longer be viewed as a young player that’s still in the development phase. He should be close to a finished NHL product, and may not get demonstrably better in any area of his game if he doesn’t show it this upcoming season. He was one of the main pieces discussed when the Bruins talked trade with the Minnesota Wild prior to them dealing Marco Scandella to Buffalo, and there is clearly trade value for the former second round pick. 

But the Bruins also have a potential third line center replacement in Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson after signing him out of Boston University at the end of last season. Forsbacka Karlsson may need some AHL time to start this season after looking overmatched in his only NHL appearance late last season, but he’s the eventual two-way center replacement for Spooner in the long term. 

Forsbacka Karlsson may not be as fast or as flashy as Spooner, but he projects to be better on draws, better at winning battles and puck possession and better at being more difficult to play against while boasting his own set of offensive skills. 

It’s now up to Spooner to win that training camp competition with Forsbacka Karlsson for his current third line center position, and protect his own spot on the B’s roster by playing like his very job security depends on it. If he doesn’t show that kind of urgency and hop to his game right from the start of training camp, then it’s only a matter of time before he becomes trade fodder at a salary cap number ($2.825 million) that should be easy to move.

It’s no hyperbole to say that Spooner is entering his final chance with the Black and Gold after avoiding arbitration, and it’s wholly up to him to dictate exactly how long it lasts for.