The Boston Bruins will spend the next week finalizing their roster ahead of their season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks a week from Wednesday. And pegging the remaining open spots isn’t so easy this time around.
Even without Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, the Bruins have a fairly good idea of their top six outlook for the Oct. 11 opener. They also have a rough outline of how their bottom six and defensive pairings will look when Conor Bedard and company come to Boston.
But the Bruins witnessed a few standouts during the preseason. They’ve all made it difficult for the coaching staff to analyze their final decisions and made legitimate cases of making a jump to the big club at some point during Boston’s centennial season.
So, let’s look at those three standouts, shall we?
The Bruins have Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha penciled in as their top two centers in the first season without Bergeron and Krejci. Their potential top-six center options in the pipeline remain thin, yet they may have found themselves an anchor for future first or second-line assignments.
Poitras rose up Boston’s prospect rankings a year ago, tallying 79 assists and 95 points in 63 games with Guelph (OHL). He’s followed that impressive season up with a solid showing at training camp and now enters the final week in a unique position.
The 2022 second-round pick showcased significant growth over the last two seasons. Poitras positioned himself as a dark horse candidate for an opening night assignment.
Poitras displayed his slick passing traits, a high offensive I.Q. and a keen defensive eye throughout camp. Though he’ll likely remain as a pass-first playmaker, Poitras could still use some work on his shot.
The Bruins can’t send Poitras to Providence this year. But they can return him to his junior club following Poitras’ ninth NHL game if they decide to keep him for another audition at the start of the regular season.
After a solid two-year stint at Ohio State, Lohrei made the trek to Providence in the spring, playing in eight AHL games, including three appearances against Hartford during the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
The dynamic puck-moving blue-liner showcased his transitional skillset during the preseason, often starting the breakout with crisp outlet passes on the counterattack. His traits complement well with a fellow two-way dynamo like Charlie McAvoy or a stay-at-home blue-liner like Brandon Carlo.
Because of the veteran log jam on the back end, Lohrei will likely continue his development in Providence to start the 2023-24 campaign. But the 2020 second-round selection will sit atop the list of potential promotions as he continues fine-tuning his two-way skillset.
Even as a transitional season approaches, Jim Montgomery will still have some familiar faces around him, including from his days behind a college bench.
With his prior relationship with Montgomery at the University of Denver, Mitchell entered camp with some familiarity after arriving from Chicago in the off-season trade involving Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall.
Mitchell appeared in 82 career games over three years with a transitional Blackhawks squad. He struggled with consistency and injuries, leading to a stagnant development between his time in Chicago and its AHL affiliate in Rockford.
With a new home and a fresh perspective, Mitchell has made the most of his opportunity thanks to his familiarity with Montgomery’s philosophy and coaching style. He’s starting to compliment his defensive traits with a more well-rounded approach offensively, establishing good foot speed and gaining separation in the attacking end to create scoring chances.
With a friendly $775,000 cap hit, the cap-strapped Bruins could slide Mitchell into a seventh defenseman role.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.