December 8, 2023


The Bruins nonetheless want to find out the following steps for youthful gamers like Mason Lohrei and Johnny Beecher.

Patrick Brown and Johnny Beecher are each competing for Boston’s fourth-line middle spot. Bruce Bennett/Getty Photographs

The Bruins’ preseason slate has come and gone.

However Jim Montgomery and his teaching employees nonetheless have loads of work to do in terms of trimming Boston’s roster all the way down to its ultimate 22 or 23 gamers forward of Wednesday’s season opener towards Chicago.

The Bruins introduced one anticipated roster minimize on Friday, sending goalie Brandon Bussi to Windfall.

However Boston nonetheless has to make just a few extra strikes between at times so as to steadiness their books and decide the longer term for each a crop of promising children and established NHLers at present on the roster bubble.

“We mentioned we have been gonna use, not solely in the present day, however particularly [Saturday] the place we’ll do some little bit of scrimmaging once more and special-teams state of affairs earlier than we make ultimate choices on the place we’re headed,” Jim Montgomery mentioned on Friday afternoon. “So nothing’s imminent proper now on anyone.”

With extra roster cuts on the best way, listed here are 5 lineup choices that the Bruins nonetheless have to settle earlier than Oct. 11.

The place does Matt Poitras play?

It’s not set in stone fairly but, however it’s all however a on condition that 19-year-old Matthew Poitras will break camp with the Bruins after a stellar preseason run.

The following problem for the poised pivot and 2022 second-round choose is sticking up in Boston for your complete season. The Bruins can play Poitras in 9 complete NHL video games this season earlier than they should determine to both maintain him for the lengthy haul (and burn the primary yr of his entry-level contract) or ship him again to juniors for the 2023-24 marketing campaign.

However as Boston seems to be to see if Poitras has the mettle to outlive an 82-game gauntlet within the professionals, the query stays as to the place the rookie is finest utilized in Boston’s lineup.

As tempting because it may be to see how a gifted playmaker like Poitras fares when slotting subsequent to some elite-level expertise on the wing in Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, the logical place to begin for him is on the third line subsequent to Trent Frederic and Morgan Geekie.

That trio was arguably the strongest ahead group on Thursday towards the Rangers, with each Frederic and Geekie submitting their finest performances of the autumn and complimenting Poitras’ play within the O-zone.

“I believe final night time, the game-winning objective is an ideal instance,” Montgomery mentioned of how Frederic’s recreation might help Poitras. “Freddie’s a load when he’s shifting and he’s going north. I believe he’s underrated so far as how expert he’s. However he’s a talented participant that may work in behind you, work via you, and he’s received to get under the tops and that’s what he did on that objective.

“He chipped the puck in, he beat the 2 defensemen himself. Geekie creates the help, we have now our offensive triangle that we like within the O-zone early after which he makes a particular play and Poitras is affected person sufficient as F3 to remain extensive open on the internet entrance.”

It certain could be simpler for Poitras if he had gamers like Marchand to depend on to drive play, night time in and night time out. However Boston probably needs to see if their high prospect has the means to carry his personal additional down the lineup first earlier than elevating him on the depth chart.

If Poitras could make it previous that nine-game trial, maybe that opens the door for him to earn a top-six look — doubtlessly making a domino impact of pushing one other robust middle in Charlie Coyle again all the way down to his normal spot on the third line.

However such a state of affairs probably isn’t going to be thought-about till Poitras proves that he can stick round the entire 2023-24 season with the Bruins.

Who will win the 4C job?

At this level, the battle for Boston’s fourth-line middle position comes all the way down to veteran Patrick Brown or Windfall common Johnny Beecher.

As soon as thought-about to be destined for extra AHL seasoning, Beecher has dispelled a few of that narrative with a powerful preseason with Boston.

The fleet-footed ahead nonetheless carries the expectations of being a former first-round choose, however Beecher’s dimension (6-foot-3, 216 kilos) and acceleration might make him a menace on the forecheck on a checking line.

When he’s on his recreation, Beecher attracts some parallels to Sean Kuraly — maybe with a bit much less offensive punch and a bit extra sandpaper.

However on Friday, it was Brown who was centering Boston’s fourth line alongside one established checking-line ahead in Milan Lucic.

Brown, signed by Boston on the primary day of free company, is a stable penalty killer, hits a ton, and is nice at faceoffs (56.1 profession FO%). But when Boston is trying to inject extra dynamic play into that fourth line, Beecher makes a really compelling case subsequent to a different speedster in Jakub Lauko.

“You possibly can inform he’s a wise hockey participant that understands the main points, as a result of as camp has gone on, he’s gotten higher,” Montgomery mentioned of Brown on Friday. “I assumed he was very efficient for us final night time.

“And I keep in mind speaking to him, possibly it was 4 days in the past and requested him how he thinks it’s coming alongside. And he’s been saying he’s actually been specializing in how we play so he can play quicker, and also you’re beginning to see it.”

Does Mason Lohrei stick to the NHL membership?

Lohrei, very similar to Poitras, has achieved a terrific job this preseason of accelerating his projected developmental timeline and simply how lengthy he must turn into a viable NHLer.

A gifted offensive playmaker on the blue line with an imposing body (6-foot-5, 211 kilos), Lohrei might need the very best ceiling of any Bruins prospect. However he nonetheless has a lot to work on so far as his D-zone fundamentals and skating.

May Boston choose to have him study on the fly, as was the case with a rookie Brandon Carlo in 2016?

As intriguing because it may be to stay Lohrei subsequent to a Carlo or Charlie McAvoy, the Bruins probably choose to take the safer route right here and have the younger D-man open the season in Windfall.

Which may rankle some Bruins followers, however Lohrei is healthier served starting the season in a spot the place he can log 25+ minutes an evening often, particularly with loads of power-play reps up for grabs towards AHL competitors. Even when Lohrei was to bump a participant like Derek Forbort out of the lineup, these prolonged minutes probably received’t be out there off the bat.

Not like Poitras, Lohrei has the posh of getting referred to as up at any level in the course of the 2023-24 season.

And if Lohrei continues to thrive in Windfall and Boston’s D corps shows some cracks (a 3rd pair of Forbort and Kevin Shattenkirk has been shaky up to now in preseason play), Lohrei is only a quick drive away from NHL reps.

Very similar to David Pastrnak’s rookie season (25 video games in Windfall earlier than closing out the yr in Boston), Lohrei might observe an identical trajectory in 2023-24.

Who will spherical out the ahead group?

If Poitras opens the yr at 3C, the Bruins probably have a 3rd line in place with him, Geekie, and Frederic.

However Boston nonetheless has just a few extra choices to make so far as their ahead grouping.

Past the Beecher/Brown battle at 4C, the Bruins want to search out which winger finest slots in at 4RW — with the spot coming all the way down to A.J. Greer or Jakub Lauko.

Greer is an effective fourth-line foot soldier who injects loads of vitality, however Lauko might need the within edge as a result of a better ceiling and a powerful pattern dimension from final yr (seven factors, 11 penalties drawn in 23 NHL video games).

Boston additionally must determine on who its thirteenth ahead might be. Together with Greer and even Brown, the Bruins have a PTO candidate nonetheless in place in Danton Heinen, in addition to Jesper Boqvist.

Amongst that group, Heinen may be the favourite for a reserve position due to his versatility, two-way play, and what is going to assuredly be a really low cost contract if Boston tears up that PTO deal.

Who’s the seventh man on protection? 

Lohrei certain isn’t going to be sticking round as Boston’s seventh D, nor would Boston bump Forbort or Shattenkirk into that position. 

This may probably come all the way down to both Jakub Zboril or Ian Mitchell. Although Zboril has had some rotten damage luck throughout his time in Boston, Mitchell may get the within edge right here due to his cheaper contract. 

With cap house at a premium for this Bruins crew, these elements must be thought-about — particularly if it’s the distinction between carrying one other spare participant up on the NHL roster.