BOSTON — Defenseman Adam McQuaid took a major step forward in his rehabilitation from a broken fibula on Monday when he joined his teammates at practice for the first time since leaving the lineup on Oct. 19.

Where does he fit in the lineup right now? That’s a question for another day.

For Coach Bruce Cassidy, there’s no need to go down that road until McQuaid is ready to pull on a game uniform, and he’s not quite there yet. But Cassidy was glad to have him back.

“I don’t even want to speculate,” said Cassidy. “He’s just starting practice and contact with the guys. But with any extra guys that are proven, it’s a good problem to have. We’ll fit the pieces together when he’s truly ready to play. But it is nice to have him around. He’s a great guy and his teammates all love him. When you’re injured sometimes you can’t help but feel like an outsider, so it’s good for him to be back in the room and on the ice with the guys.”

Cassidy understandably didn’t want to speculate just yet, but we’ll give it a shot. And while it’s a good problem to have, good ones still have to be handled with care. And if there are no more injuries to the back end between now and the time McQuaid’s ready in perhaps a week – a big if, to be sure – Cassidy will have several options.

One option would be to go back to the original plan and pair McQuaid with Torey Krug, move right-handed defenseman Kevan Miller over to the left side to play with Brandon Carlo and send Matt Grzelcyk, who does not require waivers, back to Providence. There are two issues with that option. Grzelcyk may not have a stranglehold on his spot in the lineup, but he’s certainly earned his place. Miller, meanwhile, is a notably better player on his natural side than he is on the left.

Another option would be to sit Carlo, who has had his ups and downs this year, and play McQuaid with Krug. While that may give Boston a better lineup in the short-term, it could hamper the development of Carlo, whom the Bruins expect to be in their top-four for a long time to come.

A third would be to dress seven defensemen and sit a winger, possibly Tim Schaller. Cassidy has dressed seven defensemen a couple of times this year and they’ve managed it fine, but it usually leads to one defenseman seeing just a handful of minutes.

Lastly, they could simply wait it out until that next injury happens.

McQuaid is trying not to think about it too much just yet.

“I’m not really there yet, so no, but I know the guys are playing really well right now and getting the results,” he said. “It’s been really fun to watch. Obviously I’m focused on that, but I’m focused more on my rehab and getting healthy again. When it comes to that time, we can revisit it.”

While Cassidy has stressed a four-man attack with mobile defensemen jumping into the play, don’t think he doesn’t appreciate the virtues of the rugged, stay-at-home types like McQuaid, whom he helped develop years ago in Providence.

“He’s a good skater that maybe doesn’t get noticed because he’s not flying up the ice, but he laterally pivots (well), so he can handle top end offensive guys,” said Cassidy. “He’s not susceptible to outside speed. When you watch Adam play, it’s not very often that he gets burnt wide. He has the ability to set his gap and he’s positionally solid. … There’s always room for that type of player.”

Ryan Spooner, who like McQuaid is on injured reserve with a recurrence of a groin injury, might be even closer to a return. He returned to practice on Monday after missing the last two games. Spooner said he’ll need to consult the training staff – he has been dealing with the groin injury since early in the season before it hurt badly enough in Vegas on Oct. 15 to miss over a month – but he said he felt good in practice.

“I feel good but it just sucks that I play for two games then I’m out for two games,” Spooner said. “The team decided I should take some time and rest it up. That’s what I’ve been doing. It’s my first time skating in six or seven days. It feels fine now though.”

Is he a little gun-shy with the injury?

“Yes and no. At the beginning of the year I tried to play through it and it didn’t work out well for me. I’m just trying to be smart with it,” said Spooner, who wasn’t ruling out being available for Wednesday’s game in Detroit. “In the game against Nashville, I just tweaked it a little bit in the third period. It didn’t feel right and I didn’t want to go out there and play through it. It’s happened a couple of times and it’s something I need to get under control and get back in the lineup.”

The Bruins are at the 23-man roster limit, so they will have to move a couple of players off the roster when Spooner and McQuaid return. Matt Beleskey could be the odd man out at forward when Spooner returns. Paul Postma may have to go when McQuaid’s ready. Both would require waivers.

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