Ryan Spooner is really cuddling up to this opportunity to make waves with the New York Rangers.
After collecting two assists in his Rangers debut (being involved in both goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit), Spooner topped himself last night, generating three more assists as the Rangers managed a 6-5 overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks.
Vladislav Namestnikov made a great first impression with the Rangers, scoring a goal and an assist during last night’s debut.
It almost makes you wonder if the Rangers might embrace this new, post-trade deadline reality and just be … messy fun?
Naturally, it’s not reasonable to expect Spooner, 26, to generate 2.5 assists per game during his stay with the Rangers – however long that is.
Still, plenty of people must feel vindicated that they pointed out that, despite some bumpy times with the Boston Bruins, he’s quietly carved out some nice numbers. In 39 games this season, Spooner managed a solid 25 points for the B’s. Rick Nash, meanwhile, generated 28 points (though with 18 goals) in his final 60 games with the Rangers.
Spooner’s showing remarkable chemistry so far with Jesper Fast and Kevin Hayes, which might provide some precious relief for Rangers fans. Actually, for a team that unloaded some significant names, the Rangers’ top nine still looks dangerous enough to make them a “spoiler” headache down the stretch:
Chris Kreider — Mika Zibanejad — Pavel Buchnevich
Spooner — Hayes — Fast
Jimmy Vesey — Namestnikov — Mats Zuccarello
Not half-bad, right? Of course, the defense is the real problem here, but the Rangers might actually be entertaining, combining some solid offense with Henrik Lundqvist stubbornly trying to make 50 saves per night.
The other interesting facet of the NHL-ready players the Rangers received in their slew of trades is that they, too, received rentals in Spooner and Namestnikov. Mike Murphy of Blueshirt Banter ponders Spooner’s future with the team, wondering if he might get lost in the free-agent shuffle and noting that Namestnikov is likely a higher priority to re-sign:
Spooner is coming off of a one-year, $2,825,000 contract. If the Rangers want him around for more than next season his AAV is going to approach $4 million a year, depending on the term. There’s a good chance that a contract like that won’t fit into Gorton’s vision of what this team needs to be. If that’s the case, moving him on draft day would be the best way forward.
Glancing at the Rangers’ Cap Friendly page, the Rangers will need to decide what to do with a wide array of restricted free agents: Spooner, Namestnikov, Kevin Hayes, Jimmy Vesey, Brady Skjei, John Gilmour, and Rob O'Gara.
With a pile of picks and some new players to ponder, the Rangers gave themselves a ton of flexibility this summer. The challenge, then, is to make the most of these opportunities and avoid boxing themselves in with mistakes.
Figuring out what to do with Spooner may very well be filed with making the most of those later first-rounders under “easier said than done.”
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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.