Note: The article is reprinted with permission rom Jimmy Murphy’s hockey website MuphysHockeyLaw.Net. Read the full piece and get GREAT hockey content from Murphy here. Also, read Murphy’s piece on Brad Marchand who harshly criticized the NHL’s crackdown on faceoff violations.
Could a trade of Avalanche center Matt Duchene affect the future of Boston Bruins center Ryan Spooner who also seems to always be in a trade rumor? If recent chatter amongst NHL execs and scouts is any indication, yes it could.
A report earlier this week from TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger listed the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets as teams pursuing a trade for Duchene. According to numerous NHL sources, you can throw the Pittsburgh Penguins into the mix too. Remember, the always stealth Pens GM Jim Rutherford has made it public he’s looking for a third line center and while Pittsburgh wasn’t on Dreger’s list, that doesn’t mean Rutherford hasn’t or won’t circle back on a player he targeted at the 2017 NHL Trade deadline.
“You can never count Rutherford out on anyone,” one NHL source told Murphy’s Hockey Law recently. “Also, remember ‘Sid’ [Crosby] and Duchene are good friends and have had chemistry playing together for Canada. In fact Duchene played wing with ‘Sid’. I’m sure Sid’s given some positive input to Jim on Duchene and he could be a really good fit for what they need right now. But if the Pens want him, it’s going to likely cost them [Derrick] Pouliot.”
That makes sense considering the Avalanche have let it be known, any deal for Duchene must include an NHL ready young defenseman coming back their way. As for the Senators, they could fill that need as well but do not expect young stud defenseman Thomas Chabot to be in any trade as they feel he is a key to their present and future success.
So how does this affect Spooner and the Bruins?
Well that same source – as did others to Murphy’s Hockey Law throughout the summer – have said both the Penguins and Senators expressed interest in Spooner last June at the draft. So if the Senators – who according to Bruce Garrioch – are in heavy pursuit of Duchene, fail to land the 2009 third pick overall, turn their eyes on the Ottawa native that has struggled to find his way in Boston? Or could the Penguins – who have numerous New England based scouts – also look at Spooner as a back-up plan? Spooner brings a much cheaper cap hit at one year, $2.8 million versus Duchene at two years, $6 million, so that’s appealing as well.
Regardless of how this all pans out, the current Bruins center is doing his best to block out the rumor noise.
“I’ve been traded a million times since I’ve been here,” Spooner joked recently. “It’s been the same thing for the last four years. But I need to block that out the best I can and just focus on what I can control. I can’t worry about that. It’s hard at times but it’s part of the game.”
Obviously seeing all these trade rumors can affect a players confidence and that’s something Spooner is focused on building by being a more complete player.
“I think for me, the one thing they need from me more is just being a complete player and I think if I can do that, it’s going to help me out a lot,” Spooner told the media earlier this week. “Just being more of a player they can trust and it starts with faceoffs for me. I think that if I can build that into my game, I think they know that the offensive side of things and the powerplay, I’m good at that and been good at since I’m 20. So, I have some things that I’m good at and there’s other things that I have to work at. There’s a lot of things I can bring to the team if I just become more of a reliable player. I think if I start with that, then it’s going to help me out.”
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy also touched on the confidence issue with Spooner too.
“Well Ryan’s been here, he’s a pro, he’s got street cred in the NHL in terms of being able to put up points,” Cassidy said recently. “It’s just he has to be able to do it on a regular basis from October through until the last game of the season, and that’s what we expect out of Ryan and he should expect the same out of himself. Hopefully another year in the league makes him a little more mature, just confident in his own abilities to do that. That’s what we are going to try to get out of Ryan and build the rest of his game, but we need him to do what he does well, we need him to attack, we need him to play at a high pace and make plays and make his wingers around him better, Play the 200-foot game in those tight games and do his part.”