(Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs / Boston Globe)

By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn

In much-anticipated news, Mason Lohrei has been called up from the NCAA’s Ohio State Buckeyes to finish the pro season with the Bruins organization. However, it is not in the way many people may have expected. The Providence Bruins have signed Lohrei to an Amateur Try-Out Agreement (ATO), which some fans may find unfamiliar.

An ATO means that Lohrei will finish the spring with the AHL club without burning one of his two years on an Entry-Level Contract. Had he signed an ELC now, he would use a full year of it to simply finish this season. Once his ELC is over, the Bruins will have to negotiate a new contract with him, so saving a year of his ELC means that the first negotiation for a pro contract gets pushed back.

Lohrei tore it up in Columbus this season with the Buckeyes. In 40 games, he put up 32 points in a conference that sent four teams to the national tournament – including Lohrei and Ohio State. After upsetting the second-seeded Harvard Crimson, the Buckeyes fell to top-seeded Quinnipiac in the regional final round of the national tournament. Following the game, many people were impressed with the 6’4″ sophomore from Madison, Wisconsin, including Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold.

The key to this deal is the agency it gives the team by not using a year of his ELC yet. While some fans were hoping for an injection of youth at the NHL level similar to what the Colorado Avalanche got from Cale Makar in 2019, it appears the Bruins organization is happy to take a slower approach with their top defensive prospect. While the NHL club makes a run at hockey’s biggest prize, Lohrei will be testing himself at the AHL level and trying to show that he has what it takes to earn his first pro contract.