Bruins finalize beginning lineup: 4 takeaways as Mason Lohrei heads to Windfall

Bruins

“When gamers have made an influence in our lineup they usually deserve a possibility, they’ve earned a possibility.”

Boston Bruins' Mason Lohrei looks to pass the puck away from New York Rangers' Kaapo Kakko during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, in New York.
Mason Lohrei will head to Windfall to begin the 2023-24 season. AP Picture/Frank Franklin II

After a number of rounds of roster cuts, the Bruins lastly have their personnel in place for opening evening on Oct. 11.

Following Monday’s Media Day at TD Backyard, Boston introduced its ultimate cuts forward of the 5 p.m. deadline for finalized league rosters.

As anticipated, each Matthew Poitras and Johnny Beecher are set to make their NHL debuts on Wednesday towards the Blackhawks after some spectacular preseason play, whereas Mason Lohrei will open the yr in Windfall.

The one remaining domino is the standing of Danton Heinen, who skated on Monday however nonetheless must signal a contract with Boston. In different roster information, the Bruins misplaced ahead A.J. Greer after the Calgary Flames claimed him off waivers.

Primarily based on the strains we noticed on Monday morning at TD Backyard, here’s a projected take a look at Boston’s lineup on Wednesday.

James van Riemsdyk — Pavel Zacha — David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand — Charlie Coyle — Jake DeBrusk
Trent Frederic — Matthew Poitras — Morgan Geekie
Milan Lucic — Johnny Beecher — Jakub Lauko

Matt Grzelcyk — Charlie McAvoy
Hampus Lindholm — Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort — Kevin Shattenkirk

Linus Ullmark
Jeremy Swayman

Listed below are a number of fast takeaways in regards to the Bruins’ projected beginning lineup on Wednesday.

Poitras opens his NHL profession on third line

If Matthew Poitras plans on sticking round within the NHL ranks all season lengthy, the Bruins are going to make him earn it.

Poitras is arguably essentially the most thrilling prospect to step into Boston’s dressing room in years, along with his potential ceiling as an influence top-six middle holding much more weight within the wake of each Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci’s retirements.

However as tempting because it is likely to be to see what a poised playmaker like Poitras may do if slotted subsequent to some elite-level expertise like Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, the Bruins aren’t going to entrench him in such a significant function … not but, at the very least.

The Bruins solely have 9 video games to see what Poitras can provide up within the NHL ranks. After that prolonged pattern dimension, Boston might want to 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 evaluates Poitras’ mettle, the group will see if he can drive play on a 3rd line subsequent to Trent Frederic and Morgan Geekie.

That grouping was arguably Boston’s finest ahead trio throughout their preseason finale towards the Rangers, with Poitras potting his third aim off of a slick feed from Frederic behind New York’s internet.

If Poitras proves his price over the primary 9 video games, the door may open for Poitras to doubtlessly slot up right into a top-six function — with the following domino impact pushing one other poised pivot like Charlie Coyle to the third line.

However earlier than he’s handed the keys to that coveted spot within the top-six, he’ll have to ship additional down the lineup.

We talked about this the opposite evening, Cam [Neely] and I had been speaking about going manner again with David Pastrnak. He’s having a fairly good yr within the American Hockey League, he went to the World Juniors, he got here again and performed his ninth recreation and scored two targets towards Philadelphia,” Don Sweeney stated. “Lo and behold, he’s in our lineup for the remainder of the yr and has grow to be an amazing participant. Name it arguably a prime 10 participant within the Nationwide Hockey League. 

“You by no means know the timelines, you simply attempt to help the event course of. Whether or not that’s via the draft, or via faculty free company, or no matter gamers or trades are introduced in and attempt to domesticate via a profitable setting. And when children are prepared, gamers are prepared. Give them the chance to make the most of it. That’s on them, they’ve earned it.”

Mason Lohrei heads to Windfall 

The one transfer that can doubtless rankle some Bruins followers is Mason Lohrei getting despatched to Windfall to open the 2023-24 season. 

Lohrei entered camp as arguably Boston’s most gifted prospect, given his profile as a 6-foot-5, puck-moving defenseman. 

However the established sentiment surrounding Lohrei’s recreation is that he nonetheless wanted loads of seasoning down within the AHL ranks this season, particularly after logging eight complete video games with Windfall final yr.

After a really spectacular preseason slate, it’s protected to imagine that Lohrei has considerably accelerated his developmental timeline as much as the NHL ranks. 

“Mason has made our selections actually troublesome,” Sweeney stated. “He’s performed effectively. Once more, we’ve put him in comparable conditions with Poitras and enjoying them up and down the lineup and in conditions that once more, on the again finish, you’re not going to get hit and also you’re going to get uncovered, if something. He’s logged quite a lot of minutes. We proceed to work on his habits with out the puck.

“I believe all people begins to see the expertise and the imaginative and prescient that he has the creativity, the arrogance to have the ability to execute offensively. Whether or not that’s from his personal aim line or the offensive blue line. The most important adjustment to the Nationwide Hockey League is de facto defending towards the highest gamers … as a result of they lean on you, they usually press you. Mason’s going to should proceed to undergo that. There’ll be some rising pains related to it.”

Despite the fact that Lohrei’s expertise are evident, beginning the season in Windfall nonetheless makes loads of sense for the poised blueliner.

As tempting because it is likely to be to fit in Lohrei over a possible third-pairing common like Derek Forbort (or cut up up the Grzelcyk-McAvoy pairing out of the gate), the Bruins can maintain Lohrei down in Windfall, the place can’t solely log 25+ minutes an evening, however can even play to his strengths along with his prolonged reps on the P-Bruins’ power-play unit. 

As long as Lohrei continues to construct upon the inspiration he set this fall, the Bruins defenseman needs to be again within the NHL in some unspecified time in the future this season — particularly if accidents sprout up with the large membership. 

At this level, it’s extra of a matter of when, not if so far as Lohrei’s arrival.

Bruins nonetheless engaged on Heinen’s future

Given the roster cuts which have already been made, it feels inevitable that Boston will ultimately hand Heinen a contract earlier than the Bruins take the ice on Wednesday towards Chicago. 

“We’re nonetheless weighing our choices because it pertains to doubtlessly signing Danton,” Sweeney stated. “And he is aware of, you recognize, he’s been right here in a PTO however he’s additionally made the troublesome resolution. “We’re going to take it proper down on the wire after we make our ultimate roster selections tonight.”

Given Heinen’s versatility, two-way play, and familiarity with each the Bruins and Jim Montgomery, the veteran ahead makes loads of sense as Boston’s thirteenth ahead — with Heinen in line to fit in on the third line if Poitras is ultimately despatched to juniors.   

With Boston now sitting with $1.3 million in accessible cap house, the Bruins ought to have sufficient to tear up Heinen’s PTO deal and hand him a (doubtless low-cost) contract for the 2023-24 season.  

A youth motion on the fourth line 

Despite the fact that 35-year-old Milan Lucic is predicted to be the anchor on Boston’s checking unit, the Bruins will load up the remainder of that fourth line with a pair of speedsters keen to dole out welts in rookie Johnny Beecher and second-year NHLer Jakub Lauko.

With Patrick Brown assigned to Windfall on Monday, the Bruins have a strong contingency plan in place if Beecher hits a wall up within the NHL ranks. However Beecher earned his probability to interrupt camp with Boston after a robust preseason exhibiting as a fleet-footed pivot.

“When gamers have made an influence in our lineup they usually deserve a possibility, they’ve earned a possibility,” Sweeney stated. “It’s not about deserving one. Makes actually exhausting conversations with veteran gamers, and it’s not a simple enterprise in that regard in any respect.

“And it’s very uncomfortable, since you do have actually good conversations while you’re speaking about bringing a participant into the fold and the place you see it. After which you may have little unpredictability because it pertains to youthful gamers making the most of their alternative. However once more, it’s earned.”


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