Last year, the Boston Bruins set NHL records with 65 wins and 135 points to win the Presidents’ Trophy, but shockingly lost in the first round of the playoffs. This past summer, former captain Patrice Bergeron and forward David Krejčí retired, opening spots for new young talent.
Enter 19-year-old forward Matt Poitras. Poitras has earned the right to be on the team, after helping the Bruins win games and stay on top of the Atlantic Division early in the year.
The emergence of Poitras has been one of the biggest storylines for the Bruins. Poitras was one of two rookies on the team to start the season on opening night, an impressive feat. Other notable first years are forward Johnny Beecher, 2019 first round pick who played three seasons in college at Michigan and 2020 second- round pick Mason Lohrei, defensemen who played at Ohio State.
Poitras, a 2022 second- round NHL draft pick, has exceeded all expectations. The Bruins let him play in the first nine games of the 2023-24 season, the most one can play before exceeding the limit of an entry-level contract. Head coach Jim Montgomery and general manager Don Sweeney had a decision to make to determine if they wanted to keep Poitras in the NHL full-time and burn his entry-level contract. They also had to weigh the option of returning him to the OHL junior team Guelph Storm.
After careful consideration, Montgomery announced Poitras is staying with the Bruins for the remainder of the season. In the first 12 games of the season, the center has four goals and three assists.
Poitras’s role on the team started off as bottom-six player. He’s had the opportunity to play alongside David Pastrňák and Pavel Zacha. With exceptional puck protection habits, high IQ and vision of the ice, his coaches and teammates have recognized how quickly he’s adapted in the NHL.
Even after the surprise exit early in the playoffs last season, the Bruins are trying to win now. After losing Bergeron and Krejčí, they are still Stanley Cup contenders. Keeping Poitras in the lineup isn’t so much to develop the kid. They like what he has brought to the team and how he’s helping them win games now.
Poitras had two goals against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 22 and scored on a breakaway against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 24. Listed at 5-foot-11-inches and 177 pounds, Poitras has had no issues so far against bigger and stronger competition in the corners of the ice. The weakest part of his game is faceoffs, but he has shown enough to establish why he can be in the top-six role for offense. With all this in mind, Poitras could be the key to avoiding another upset early in the playoffs and has potential to be a key piece on Boston’s seventh ever Stanley Cup team.