Matthew Poitras has deservedly received plaudits for his performance so far in his rookie season with the Bruins, but he’s not the only debutant making an impact.
Fellow rookies Johnny Beecher and Mason Lohrei each scored their first NHL goals during a 3-2 win in Dallas on Monday night. The goals came back-to-back in the first period and enabled Boston to cruise to a win. The ice-breakers came in just the third NHL game of Lohrei’s career, and Beecher’s twelfth.
The three rookies took very different paths to Boston and are all contributing in different ways.
Poitras, the youngest of the three, has been well document to this point.
A second round pick in 2022, he parlayed a 95 point campaign for Guelph in the OHL into an entry-level deal with Boston. Poitras then seized his opportunity in the preseason and has not let up. He’s been one of the Bruins most impactful forwards in all situations.
His 58.8% Expected Goals For % is third on the team, he leads the team in takeaways (11) and has not committed a penalty, but has drawn 14 minutes worth of PIMs. (Stats via Moneypuck.com)
Lohrei, another second round pick, was drafted 58th overall back in 2020.
He was regarded as a very raw prospect as he had only played one full season of Juniors in the USHL. Lohrei rewarded Boston for their patience in his development track, signing an entry level deal this past May after another USHL campaign and two seasons at Ohio State.
With Grzelcyk and Forbort out to injury and McAvoy suspended, Lohrei was called up after just twelve career AHL games. His debut against Toronto turned heads, but since then it’s been very apparent that he still needs to develop.
Beecher is the longest tenured and highest drafted Bruin of the three.
Selected 30th overall in 2019, Beecher spent three seasons at Michigan before joining Providence after the Frozen Four in 2022. He found a home as a bottom six grinder and has kept up that role with the big club. Since making his debut on Opening Night, he’s been the penciled-in fourth line center for all fourteen games.
Beecher has thrived being deployed in a defensive role. He leads the team in shifts starting in his defensive zone and is second in Faceoff Win % (52.8%). He’s tied for second on the team in hits with 20 and has nine blocked shots, one fewer than Poitras. HockeyStatCards on twitter logged the Dallas game as the best of his career and rates him as the Bruins best defensive forward.
The 2023-24 NHL season is still young and all three baby Bruins have plenty of opportunity to grow their games. Only time will tell how far they can elevate the team.
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