Tag: Shawn Thornton

Boston Bruins v San Jose Sharks

Looking to make the leap: Ryan Spooner


It’s easy to look at the Boston Bruins’ offseason as a summer in which the team only got worse through subtractions, but the flip side is that those omissions also open up opportunities for others. One prospect who could be a big-time beneficiary is Ryan Spooner.

Various outlets paint him as the Bruins’ best prospect, with the 22-year-old inspiring rave reviews for his speed and skill.

The 2010 second-round pick (45th overall) already managed 11 assists in 23 games at the NHL level this season after failing to record a point in four games back in 2012-13. (He’s still searching for that first NHL tally.) Spooner bounced between the AHL and NHL last season, scoring 46 points in 49 games with the Providence Bruins.

Combine the departures of Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton with the Bruins’ noted salary cap worries and it’s easy to see a golden opportunity for Spooner, especially since he’s still on his cheap ($760K cap hit) entry-level deal.

While his ceiling is probably lower than that of Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin, the burning question seems familiar enough: can he put in the necessary work in the defensive zone to appease head coach Claude Julien? Stanley Cup of Chowder implied that he could be seen as a trade bait by the organization:

What can we expect in subsequent seasons? Seeing plays set up by Ryan Spooner in a different jersey, probably. First there’s the log-jam at center and an obstinance toward even consider him as a winger. Then there’s Julien’s remarks upon his demotion: “Love his speed, love his creativity and everything else but when you play in the NHL you need a little bit more than that.” Then there’s the fact that he’s joined [Alexander] Khokhlachev as the favorite forward name in trade rumors, including notably the [Alexander] Edler deal that wasn’t at this season’s deadline. Several signs point toward a team that views him more valuable as a commodity than player. Having zilch in the pipeline in this mold and a mid-career bunch at the position, the Bruins would be wise to hang on to their ELC depth, but with rumors of a team very active on the off-season market, it might behoove fans to loosen their attachment to this particular prospect.

Well, that doesn’t sound especially promising.

Of course, a lot can happen between today and the Bruins’ Oct. 8 season opener, so another roster move or two could force the issue of integrating Spooner into the lineup that much more.

Whether it’s in Boston or perhaps another NHL city, this could very well be the year that Spooner makes the leap to a full-time roster fixture. That doesn’t mean his work will be done by any stretch, though.

It’s Boston Bruins day on PHT

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Boston Bruins.

After falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final in 2013, the Boston Bruins entered the season with high expectations. They faced some adversity as one of their key offseason additions, Loui Eriksson, suffered multiple concussions and one of their top defenseman, Dennis Seidenberg, suffered a knee injury that ended his season in December.

Despite that, the Bruins’ regular season couldn’t have gone much better.

Tuukka Rask excelled in the first campaign of his eight-year, $56 million contract, posting a 2.04 GAA and .930 save percentage in 58 games en route to winning the Vezina Trophy. Jarome Iginla, who signed a one-year contract with them for the 2013-14 campaign, also proved to be a great fit with 30 goals and 61 points in 78 contests.

Propelled by superb goaltending and a deep offense, Boston claimed the Presidents’ Trophy with a 54-19-9 record. The Bruins cruised past Detroit in the first round, but ultimately lost a bitter seven-game series against Montreal.

Because of their difficult cap situation, the Bruins watched Iginla sign with Colorado and they also decided to cut ties with Shawn Thornton, who instead signed with Florida. Boston made no move to replace them through the free agent market and was equally quiet on the trade front. Instead, the Bruins are hoping that a healthy season out of Eriksson will help them replace the offense lost by Iginla.

With training camp mere weeks away, they also still need to sign restricted free agents Reilly Smith and Torey Krug.

Although their summer hasn’t been exciting so far, the Bruins remain a well-rounded team that figures to be very competitive in 2014-15.

Cunningham could solve Bruins’ problems

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils

We mentioned last week the salary cap crunch the Boston Bruins are currently under. Adding to general manager Peter Chiarelli’s problems is the fact both Torey Krug and Reilly Smith (both restricted free agents) are unsigned.

The Boston Globe suggested moving one of the Bruins pending unrestricted free agent defensemen in order to both clear cap room and potentially add a right winger – an area the Bruins are currently lacking since the departures of veterans Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton.

However, Bruins’ prospect Craig Cunningham has another idea.

Cunningham, the Bruins fourth-round selection at the 2010 NHL Draft, has his eyes set on the Bruins roster for the upcoming season.

“Once you play and get sent back down, it makes you that hungrier,” Cunningham told Steve Ewen of  The Province. “The life is night and day, pretty much. It’s the life that I want. Everything’s different.”

The 23-year-old made his NHL debut on Dec. 17, 2013 and also suited up for the Bruins April 13 – the only two games he has on his resume.

Cunningham has been a model of consistency at the AHL level with the Providence Bruins registering three straight seasons of 20-plus goals. This past season he led Providence in goals (25) and was third in points (47).

In July, Boston rewarded him with a new, one-year, two-way contract, which pays him $85, 000 at the AHL level and $600,000 at the NHL level.

Cunningham hasn’t really had an opportunity to prove himself at the NHL level and though he’s a right-shot, right-winger – what the Bruins could use, he’s hardly a guarantee to make the team.

Boston also has Jordan Caron, Justin Florek and Matt Fraser, who are all likely ahead of Cunningham in the pecking order.

“You need to go to camp in the best shape possible and see where you fit in and what role you can play,” said Cunningham. “It’s always nice to know that there’s an opportunity. It pushes you that much more throughout your summer.”

Cunningham will need to have an excellent showing during the preseason to get any sort of consideration for time in Boston.

Related: B’s strength coach once viewed Lucic as ‘stringbean’

Under Pressure: Dale Tallon

Dale Tallon

There’s no question Florida Panthers’ general manager Dale Tallon went out and added some significant pieces to help his budding stars this offseason.

But his time to get this struggling franchise to become a regular playoff contender is quickly running out.

The team’s attendance is at the bottom of the league and the debt is piling up. Tallon is under pressure to turn the ship around in Florida.

Since taking over in May 2010, Tallon has got his club to the playoffs just once, during the 2011-12 season, where they lost in seven games of the first round to the New Jersey Devils.

Tallon is also on his third coach in Florida.

He hired Kevin Dineen prior to the 2011-12 season. Then in November 2013, Tallon replaced Dineen, who led the Panthers to a record 56-62-28 with Peter Horachek. Horachek lasted just 66 games as the team’s interim coach.

On June 21, Tallon appointed his latest bench boss, Gerard Gallant. Gallant’s only other head coaching experience in the NHL was parts of three seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2003-06 where he failed to reach the postseason.

Gallant’s track record, though brief, doesn’t really give you confidence if you’re a Panthers fan does it?

Tallon may not be doing much more hiring behind the bench, I mean how many swings and misses does a guy get?

This summer, Tallon signed Shawn Thornton, Dave Bolland and Willie Mitchell – all who have Stanley Cup experience in addition to Jussi Jokinen and Al Montoya. Tallon has to hope the vets mixed with the youngsters proves to be the right chemistry because if his job isn’t on the line at the moment, it certainly will be soon.

Florida finished with just 66 points last season well back of the 93 points Detroit needed to qualify for the second wild card spot. The Panthers play in the Atlantic Division with Boston, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Detroit – it’ll be a tall task for Tallon and Co. to avoid missing the playoffs for a third consecutive year.

Related: Panthers’ power play can only improve next season

Bruins still bummed out by Thornton signing in Florida

Shawn Thornton

Many fans in Boston took it hard when resident tough guy Shawn Thornton signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers in July.

After being the face of what became the modern version of the “Big Bad Bruins” he had a strong following with the crowd. He was also a big hit amongst his teammates as well.

As Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com shared, Thornton’s now former teammates are lamenting the loss of the guy who would drop the gloves in their defense.

“Those are the guys you never want to give up, though,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “I don’t think people necessarily talk about it too much, but you need that kind of leadership inside the locker room. You can’t just be quiet in there. You have to have young guys step up when you lose that, and its part of the challenge. Every team has to go through it.”

Plenty of teams have different things that help get them going. The Bruins seemed to feed off emotion in their games and that’s where they believe they’ll miss Thornton. Think back on all those heated games where a big hit or a fight seemed to snap them out of a fog and they’d roll from there. It’s that brand of motivation the Bruins felt Thornton brought to them.

While he’s not the best player on the ice, he was important to the Bruins’ mindset via his leadership. Now they’ll have to get by with replacing him with someone with a different skill set. The Panthers, meanwhile, will hope that guidance can be put to good use in their seemingly very young locker room.