Last night the Boston Bruins whittled down their roster by assigning defenseman Matt Bartkowski, forward Ryan Spooner, and defenseman Aaron Johnson to Providence. Right winger Jamie Tardif was placed on waivers with the intention of signing him to the minor league team. The cuts come as Boston is making final preparations for what will surely be a chest clutching season-opener against the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Bartkowski, who has 9 points so far this season with the Providence Bruins, has been given a few chances to grab a spot in the big league but has yet catch Boston's eye with three years under his belt in the Bruins system. With managements sights set square on Dougie Hamilton to fill any defensive holes that may occur during this shortened season, Bartkowski will have to polish his game and start grinding a little harder if he wants to avoid being condemned to minor league pay grade for the rest of his Bruins career. Good call by management. I really don't think I could watch this guy flounder again like he did in the three games he played for the B's last season.
The signing of journeyman Aaron Johnson confused me back in July. After
taking a harder look at the defenseman's career stats, the closest
thing I could muster to an emotion was a shrug. I think I farted too. Does that count as an emotion? Probably not. Anyway, the former Blue Jacket
was added for defensive depth but with prospects like Tommy Cross, Torey
Krug, David Warsofsky, and Matt Bartkowski waiting in the wings, Johnson likely to languish a
year in Providence rather than see ice time in the big league. Looking at Johnson's career was kind of depressing. Just seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets branded across anybody's career statistics is like spotting scars on a persons wrist. You glance quickly, look away, and never ask questions.
Speedy forward Ryan Spooner has garnered a good reputation with the Bruins having tallied 20 points in 26 games with Providence this year. Spooner comes correct with the quickness but lacks the defensive-minded play that is Claude Julien's precious. Spooner reminds me of Tyler Seguin in his first year with the Bruins. The kid has astounding skill and speed but has trouble adjusting to the Boston's system. Sniping goals and deking players out of their skates just does not get Claude's engine running like neutral zone congestion and backchecking. But, if the center continues to put up big numbers for Providence it would be foolish for the big club to ignore him.
Moving veteran AHL player Jamie Tardif must have been a tough decision. Tardif is currently leading all Providence skaters in goals with 16 in 32 games. What most likely given Boston pause is the clustering of those goals, 7 of them coming in three games. If Tardif can even out his play in Providence he could definitely add offensive prowess on the Bruins' bottom six should a spot open up.
One lingering question, with the Rangers coming to town tomorrow, is Jay Pandolfo. He filled in for Lucic yesterday as Milan was missing for "personal reasons". The defense first forward is exactly the kind of player the Claude has posters of hanging over his bed. The veteran may be fighting a losing battle though as the hole in the third line left by Brian Rolston will most likely be filled by
Chris Bourque. I'm gonna go ahead and put my money on the Bruins saying thanks, but no thanks, and passing on the free agent rather than signing him to a minor league contract in order to keep him in the system.
P.S. Here is an awesome new montage video that was uploaded to Youtube today.
Watch this and try not to get pumped for Saturday. It's literally impossible.