Spooner a surprise among Bruins' early cuts

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Spooner a surprise among Bruins' early cuts

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- The Bruins made some surprising roster decisions following Friday nights preseason win over the New York Islanders, returning some of their shiniest young prospects to their junior hockey teams.

Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight, Dougie Hamilton and Alexander Khokhlachev were among 14 players cut from a training camp roster that was once 54 players, but has been cut down to 34 players heading into a weekend series against the Habs in Halifax and Montreal.

Andrew Bodnarchuk, Ryan Button, Marc Cantin, Carter Camper, Craig Cunningham, Josh Hennessy, Kirk MacDonald, Nathan McIver, Kevan Miller and Jamie Tardif were all cut and assigned to the Providence Bruins training camp roster, as well. The AHL cuts were expected and both Hamilton and Khokhlachev were never expected to threaten for an NHL roster spot, but the early returns of Spooner and Knight were slightly eyebrow-raising.

Spooner made it through nearly all of training camp with the Bs one year earlier, but wasnt very effective in his preseason appearance against the Ottawa Senators in his hometown rink of Scotiabank Place. Knight skated with David Krejci and Milan Lucic in Fridays win over the Islanders, and played a decent while earning an assist, four hits and one blistering shot off the post while finishing at a minus-2.

The 19-year-old was a factor in the game, but was ultimately destined to return to the London Knights for more development.

Claude Julien gave some insight into the Bruins thinking earlier on Friday afternoon when asked about the chances of a junior player opening the season for nine games before returning to his team.

I dont know about that, said Julien. I think its going to be a decision that we all make together. If he earns it, I think theres no reason why that wouldnt happen. But at the same time, if you look at our prospects, the Jamie Arniels and the Jordan Carons and the Maxime Sauves and the Zach Hamills.

I think weve got a lot of depth in the American League that we can use that way as well. But if the junior player is ready, like every other year, I think we always find ways to make room or give him that opportunity.

The older tier of prospects is the exact reason why Spooner and Knight were sent back to the OHL so quickly. The Bs front office wants to get a look at AHL prospects likely to help the Bruins team if injuries befall any players this season, and certainly wants to reward players that worked diligently up the prospect development ladder.

To see some of those young guys do well is exciting, said Julien. There is nothing more exciting than after a game talking with your general manager and other coaches and saying Wow this guy really stepped up I liked his game. Its exciting because you hear me saying after training camp that we have some depth.

I like the job our scouts have done and bringing the right type of players and when you see them play, see it happen in front of your own eyes its even more encouraging. You can picture where this guy will fit in down the road if he does make the team.

It was unrealistic to believe that either Knight or Spooner would make the team and pointless to think that their return is a reflection on their performance in Bs training camp. The Bruins are a loaded roster looking to repeat as Stanley Cup champs, and thats no place for a bunch of teen-aged rookies.

The day will come for Knight, Spooner and Hamilton, but its just not there yet.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.