Bruins’ prime prospect Mason Lohrei is trying to make a ‘actual push’ for NHL roster this fall


Mason Lohrei’s mix of dimension and playmaking means on the blue line may make him a key piece for Boston.

Defenseman Mason Lohrei, left, works with coaching staff during the first day of Bruins development camp at Warrior Arena.
Mason Lohrei is trying to make a push for the NHL roster within the fall. (Ken McGagh for The Boston Globe)

Earlier than the subsequent crop of Bruins prospects etched their skates into the frozen sheet at Warrior Ice Area on Monday morning, a message wanted to be delivered.

Huddled within the video room inside the workforce’s apply facility, the way forward for the Authentic Six franchise heeded the phrases of one in all its legendary architects in Ray Bourque.

It’s asking so much for any of Boston’s blue-chippers to pen their names anyplace near the quite a few data set by the Corridor-of-Fame defenseman.

However Bourque’s handle nonetheless rang true for arguably probably the most intriguing blueliner inside the system in Mason Lohrei.

“That’s simply what this group is all about,” Lohrei mentioned of Bourque’s speech. “And that was his greatest message — simply [that] being a Bruin isn’t for everybody, and his method to the sport was perfection each day. I feel that’s one thing that I prefer to assume, too — the place each day, you present as much as the rink and attempt to be good. It’s by no means actually going to occur, however as shut as you may get it’s good.”

An offensive-minded skater working off the blue line, the 22-year-old Lohrei operates with loads of danger when he’s taking part in to his strengths. Perfection isn’t achieved on any shift, particularly in a recreation predicated on errors.

However it doesn’t take lengthy to see why Boston stays smitten with Lohrei’s distinctive mix of talent and dimension (6-foot-4, 204 kilos) on protection.

And after reducing his tooth with the Windfall Bruins within the spring, Lohrei is already setting his sights on even loftier targets this fall.

“That’s my purpose,” Lohrei mentioned Monday of constructing Boston’s roster. “That’s why I’m right here and simply checking off the containers this summer season, attempting to enhance my recreation and provides myself the most effective shot come coaching camp to make the large membership.”

Plucked out of relative obscurity as an over-ager within the second spherical of the 2020 NHL Draft, Lohrei has validated Boston’s religion in his two-way recreation since getting into the system.

Whereas immediately’s NHL caters extra towards puck motion and pace, few defensemen can perform mentioned duties with Lohrei’s pro-ready body.

However even with the anticipated studying curves that include every step up the developmental ladder in hockey, Lohrei hasn’t stumbled.

After posting 59 factors (19 targets, 40 assists) in 48 video games with the USHL’s Inexperienced Bay Gamblers following his draft yr, Lohrei logged heavy minutes as a freshman at Ohio State.

He completed second on the Buckeyes in scoring (behind fellow B’s prospect Georgii Merkulov) with 29 factors in simply 31 video games, rating fourth within the NCAA in scoring amongst freshman defensemen.

In Lohrei’s sophomore season, he posted 32 factors over 40 video games whereas taking up extra defensive duties for an Ohio State squad that made it to the NCAA Regional Closing in Bridgeport. 

After simply two years within the collegiate ranks, each Lohrei and the Bruins believed he was able to take the subsequent step.

“You see straight away — clearly, his dimension and his mobility at that dimension. He has offensive instincts, I feel his defending has come a good distance,” Bruins participant improvement coordinator Adam McQuaid mentioned of Lohrei. “I feel when he’s simplifying his recreation, he could be actually environment friendly.

“And when he has the alternatives on the offensive aspect, he could make performs, persevering with to stroll the road. …We’re simply actually enthusiastic about him turning professional. I feel it was a very good alternative for him to get in some professional video games in Windfall as a result of it ought to give him a leg up going into clearly this week after which additionally into coaching camp in September.”

Lohrei finally solely performed 5 video games with Windfall this spring after leaving the Buckeyes, together with three extra contests within the postseason.

Given his distinctive skillset and the bodily toll that youthful gamers endure towards AHL competitors, Lohrei may want extra seasoning with the Child B’s this fall earlier than changing into a viable call-up choice.

However McQuaid and the Bruins aren’t placing any restrictions on Lohrei’s path going into coaching camp, particularly if he continues to push previous expectations.

The left aspect of Boston’s protection is arguably set in the intervening time with Hampus Lindholm, Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort, and Jakub Zboril. Nonetheless, the Bruins may shed one other contract later this summer season as a way to create extra cap area, and that phase of the roster is an apparent space to focus on.

And if he’s prepared, a top-four grouping of Lindholm, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Lohrei stands as a stout basis on Boston’s blue line — each in 2023-24 and past.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he doesn’t make an actual push at coaching camp and we’re hoping for that,” McQuaid mentioned of Lohrei. “Like several younger participant, he nonetheless has issues to work on. He’s a quick learner. He’s gonna choose up on issues and proceed to develop.”