Each day in the lead-up to the NHL Draft on June 25-26 in Los Angeles, Yahoo! Sports will feature one of the Central Scouting Bureau’s Top 100 North American prospects from the Canadian Hockey League.
Listed at a generous 5-foot-10, and 175-pounds Ryan Spooner has always had to answer questions about his lack of size.
The recent NHL Scouting Combine was no different, with almost every team he interviewed with asking him about how he expects to make the jump to the pro ranks.
“Most of the questions were about my size and how I’ll deal with that at the next level,” said Spooner. “But I’ve had those questions all they way (in my career) growing up, so I’m used to it by now.” Spooner – NHL central scouting’s 39th ranked skater -- much prefers to answer those questions on the ice, where the centre was among the Peterborough Petes top scorers with 19 goals and 35 assists in 47games. A broken collar bone suffered on Jan. 21, forced Spooner to the sideline where he watched the rest of the Petes’ regular season from the stands. He was able to return to Petes for their first round playoff match with the Mississauga-St. Michael’s Majors, but without being battle tested for the post-season, Spooner was largely ineffective as Peterborough was swept in four games.
He did however impress scouts greatly with his play at the CHL Top Prospects game in where he showcased his tenacity and strong two-way game before scoring the game-winning goal -- shorthanded no less. After his season was over the Kanata, Ont., native was honoured by the OHL as the recipient of the William Hanley trophy, awarded to the league’s most sportsmanlike player after taking only 19 minutes in penalties in 47 games.
What do you usually have for your pre-game meal?
I haven’t had one in a while (Peterborough was knocked out in the first round of the OHL playoffs). I would have to say chicken and rice with a fruit smoothie maybe?
What would NHL scouts say you need to work on most in your game?
My (physical) strength and probably my play away from the puck (defensively). Growing up I didn’t really have to focus on that, because I usually had the puck on my stick but I can work on that and I’ve already gotten a lot better. My strength that will come with maturity and age and I’ll focus on that this summer.
Your biggest strength on the ice?
I’d have to say my skating and my offensive ability.
Who was your biggest influence on your hockey career?
My dad, he’s the one that got me into hockey and he was my coach growing up. He was always very positive with me, he was the kind of dad that didn’t say much after games. He was just always positive and that helped me out a lot. My mum too, when I moved away from home – that was really hard on me, but she was always there. So I’d say both my parents were my biggest influence.
What’s your favourite TV show and/or movie?
I like Two and a Half Men and my favourite movie would probably have to be Shutter Island. It was really good, it had lots of twists and turns so you never really knew where it was going, so I thought that was a good movie.