Ryan Spooner and the Bruins never made it to arbitration, settling on a one-year, $2.825 million contract ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the agreement.
Spooner and his camp sought a $3.85 million deal, while the Bruins submitted $2 million as their number. Settling outside of arbitration locks in the player at an affordable number while avoiding a potentially messy process.
Though Spooner now has a contract, his future with the Bruins isn’t much clearer than it was at season’s end. The 25-year-old center was a healthy scratch for the last two games of Boston’s playoff run, as then-interim coach Bruce Cassidy grew less hesitant to utilize the 2010 second-round pick than Claude Julien had been.
After the Bruins were eliminated by the Senators, the often candid Cassidy said that Spooner's lack of offense was what cost him ice time.
"It was well-documented with Claude he didn’t like his defensive game and some of the other things. For me, I didn’t like his offensive game at the end," Cassidy said on Toucher and Rich. "He wasn’t playing to his strengths, and that bothers me about players, if they’re not able to play to their strengths when the temperature of the game goes up.
“We can work with him on his weaknesses. We’re there to coach up the defensive part of it, but he wasn’t attacking and that was disconcerting to me, that he’s a guy that should be creating offense in the series where offense was hard to find and we weren’t getting enough of it, so we made the switch.”
On the season, Spooner totaled 11 goals and 28 assists for 39 points, a statistical regression from the 49 points (13 and 36 assists) he posted in the 2015-16 season. Assuming he remains with the club, Spooner will face competition from 2015 second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson for Boston’s third-line center job.
Coming off his entry level contract in 2015, the Bruins re-upped Spooner on a two-year contract with a $950,000 cap hit. His new deal will pay him nearly $2 million more.