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.