Bruins, Ryan Spooner avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

Boston Bruins' Ryan Spooner (51) brings the puck up against Montreal Canadiens' Nikita Nesterov (89), of Russia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins and center Ryan Spooner avoided arbitration on the day of their hearing, agreeing to a one-year, $2,825,000 deal Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Spooner became a restricted free agent July 1 after finishing a two-year contract that was worth $950,000 per season.

Spooner said that he didn’t want to go through the hearing because it’s “not a pleasant thing” and he didn’t think the Bruins wanted to participate, either. He’s the 24th player to settle this summer without a hearing after filing for arbitration.

Spooner can be a restricted free agent again next summer.

“For me, I’m going to spin that into a positive and say that I’m going to take that as a challenge to have a good year and show that I can be the player that they want me to be,” Spooner said during a conference call. “And then on the (other) side too, it kind of just shows that they need to see a little bit more out of me as a player. There’s a lot of things that I can also bring to the table that I need to work on.”

He had 11 goals and 28 assists in 78 games last season, his second full season in the NHL. He has 32 goals and 85 assists in 214 regular-season NHL games.

“I think the next step that I need to make is when the offense kind of dries up I need to be able to be more of a dependable, defensive guy,” Spooner said. “And if that’s strength or kind of the mental side of the game, that’s kind of for me to figure out. … I think the biggest strive that I can make is show that I can be trusted and bring some grit to my game.”

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, who protected Spooner as one of Boston’s seven forwards in Vegas‘ expansion draft in June and retained his services even after Spooner filed for arbitration, echoed Spooner’s thoughts about his game.

“We know Ryan has the offensive skills to be an impactful player, especially while on the power play,” Sweeney said in a statement. “We expect Ryan to continue to take the necessary steps with his development to be an even more complete, two-way player.”

Sweeney has signed all but one of his restricted free agents this offseason. Forward David Pastrnak, who was second on the Bruins with 34 goals and 70 points, doesn’t have a contract or arbitration rights. The Bruins have around $10 million in projected salary cap space remaining.

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