#26. Ryan Spooner | C | Peterborough (OHL)
Date of Birth: January 30th, 1992 Height: 5.10 Weight: 175lbs. Shoots: L Season Statistics: Regular Season | 47GP 19G 35A 54P 12PIM Playoffs | 3GP 0G 1A 1P 2PIM TSR Midterm Rank: 16 | Position Rank: 18th Forwards League Rank: 8th OHL | Country Rank: 13th Canada
Spooner came into the season with high expectations, after a spectacular rookie season that saw him finish second in 16 year old scoring with 58 points in 62 games, and tops in goals with 30 on the season. With a solid showing in the Under 17’s with 10 points in only 6 games, the Kanata native was quickly putting himself on the radar as a high NHL pick in 2010.
Coming into the season with the promise of a big season, Spooner got off to a quick start, scoring 37 points in his first 29 games played. He went on to notch 54 points through 47 games before a broken collarbone sidelined him for the rest of the regular season in late January. Many felt that he rushed his return for the playoffs, where he was largely ineffective, putting up only 1 point in 3 games, before another disappointing showing with the underachieving Canadian Under 18 team, where he finished the tournament with only 2 goals in the team’s 6 games.
While his finish to the season has left a bad taste in the mouths of many, it cannot be ignored that Spooner is still one of the most creative offensive players in the draft, with the ability to make things happen on any given shift. One of the biggest knocks on Spooner last year was that he could have distributed the puck better. Other concerns centered on his poor defensive play and inability to play the center position effectively in all three zones.
This season, however, it was evident to see the change in Spooner’s game. From the get go, he was a much better puck distributor, and played a large part in the emergence of rookie Matt Puempel as the two shared strong chemistry when they played together. His awareness of defensive responsibilities became more noticeable, as Spooner competed harder and showed better positional skills, which helped knock his plus/minus down to a -5 this year, after being a -23 a season ago.
While it will be unlikely to see Spooner hear his name called in the first round come June, he’s still a player that people need to watch out for. He’s one of the more dynamic players in the OHL, at only 17 years old, and has the skill set that projects him to be one of the top scorers in the league the next couple of seasons. His size and strength are still big concerns, but a team that is willing to overlook that for now, in lieu of his offensive talents, could pay huge dividends in the future. Spooner also is one of the hardest workers on the ice, which is a definite positive to see in any player, yet alone an undersized one.
Next season, Spooner will likely form a trio with Austin Watson and Matt Puempel on what could arguably be the top offensive line in the entire league. His ability to respond to questions about his game coming off an injury will be paramount, but there is little doubt that Spooner has the tools to be a dominant force in the OHL next year, and his elite talent level will give him an opportunity to be an offensive player at the next level as well.
Pros: Vision, Offensive Awareness, Shooting
Cons: Lack of Size/Strength, Defensive Zone Play
Skillset comparison: Martin St. Louis