Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight eyeing spot in Boston
|06.30.12 at 11:50 pm ET|
WILMINGTON – Dougie Hamilton has made headlines as the player most likely to make it to Boston for the 2012-13 season out of the development camp this week. While he has the best shot at making the NHL roster, there are a few others that are probably not as far off as one would think.
Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight, who were both selected in the second round of the 2010 draft (Knight was taken 32nd overall, Spooner was taken 45th overall), are among the next tier of prospects who have a shot grabbing the 12th forward spot in Boston.
While the Bruins currently have 11 healthy forwards on the roster (12 if Nathan Horton can return in time for the start of the next season), there is a chance that Spooner or Knight impresses the coaching staff enough to earn the final spot on the roster. However, they would have to beat out any veteran free agents that the team signs along with any AHL player in line to make the jump to the next level, such as newly acquired Chris Bourque, or Carter Camper.
“Yeah, it’s going to be hard for them,’ said Peter Chiarelli on Friday. “What we told them going into this camp is that you’re going to have an opportunity to make the team. There’s obviously some that are more likely than others to have that opportunity, but what we’ve done in the past and what we will do in the future is that, if they knock our socks off, we will find room for them.”
The tough task ahead to make the roster does not deter Knight, who said he is shooting to make the NHL club.
‘I’m not going to go into camp thinking I’m just going to get sent down to Providence,’ Knight said. ‘I think if I put in a lot of work these next seven or eight weeks I can give myself a chance. You never know with injuries or trades or things like that ‘¦ That is out of my control though. I’m just coming to camp ready to play.’
Spooner also said that he would try his best to make the NHL team, but that right now he is just focused on improving his attention to detail.
‘Hopefully one day I can make it to the National Hockey League,’ Spooner said. ‘Right now I am just focusing on doing all the little things that are going to get me there.
‘I think skill-wise I could keep up. But I think the little things, like I said, my strength, how to adjust to that type of game, [I need to improve on].’
While both players spent last season playing in the OHL (Spooner with the Sarnia Sting and Knight with the London Knights), each of them has some brief AHL experience, where Providence coach Bruce Cassidy has had a chance to get a glimpse of the two.
Spooner has played eight games in Providence over the past two seasons, scoring three goals and tallying four assists in those contests. Cassidy praised Spooner as creative and a student of the game when it came to having correct positioning. However, the biggest thing he mentioned was how much he has grown since he was drafted.
‘When he walked through the door two years ago, he looked like a 14-year-old kid,’ Cassidy said. ‘Now at least he has got a little peach fuzz on his face. He is starting to look like a little bit of a man now.’
Spooner recognized that the AHL gave him a wake-up call in his short stint there, realizing that the difference between junior hockey and pro hockey is significant.
‘I was playing against Bridgeport and the captain and I went into the corner ‘ he is like 6-foot-6 ‘ and I tried to spin off of him and he kind of just grabbed me and threw me up against the glass, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow,’’ Spooner said. ‘That was kind of when I said to myself, ‘I’ve got a lot of work to do this summer.’’
Knight was unable to make it to Providence last season due to his London squad making it to the Memorial Cup. However, Knight played three games the year before, recording two assists in the constests.
Cassidy has been able to see Knight play at development camp this week though, and says that he looks a lot like he did two seasons ago.
‘He is a straight-line guy,’ Cassidy said. ‘He drives to the net and has a great release. For him, it is ‘Will he be able to create the separation he needs to to get those chances?’ Until he gets to training camp with men I think it’s hard to speculate on that.’
If Knight and Spooner reach their full potential as NHL players, the Bruins will have had an extremely successful 2010 draft, using their top-three picks to take those two along with Tyler Seguin. The Bruins also had another first-round pick that year, but they used it in a deal to acquire Horton, who helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Also, Knight was the third piece of the Phil Kessel deal that also helped the Bruins land Seguin and Hamilton. If Knight pans out, it would just be icing on an already delicious cake.
However, even if Spooner and Knight do not make the team after this year’s training camp, the Bruins have enough depth to let the duo develop properly in the minors before making the jump to the NHL level.