(Photo Credits: Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe Staff)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter@pastagrl88

The Boston Bruins have been a bit busy as they prepare for the upcoming 2023-24 season. Amidst the multiple signings with one involving a familiar face coming back into the throes of the Black and Gold, it’ll be interesting to see the impact these moves will have this coming October.

By now fans have heard the news of the team losing multiple players including Tyler Bertuzzi who jumped ship to Toronto. But there were some silver linings that hopefully will have that impact the Bruins are looking to achieve.

Skating at the Warrior

Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney spoke with the media on Friday at the conclusion of Development Camp and highlighted some of the players’ progress during the press conference.

One player that was part of a winning squad during the three-on-three scrimmage was Mason Lohrei, who is looking to make a push for a spot on the NHL roster. At six-foot-four and 204 pounds, Lohrei looks to be checking off all the right boxes:

“Mason has been right out in front; he expects to challenge for a spot this year. I think it was really important for him to get into Providence last year and play and be in a pro-environment, to know what he able to get away with at the college level that may or may not translate at the pro level and then it’ll be another step.

He’ll go through the progressions of Rookie Camp and play in some exhibition games, and we’ll see where he’s at… You love the size; you love the puck poise. The execution and the pace of play are probably going to dictate when it translates, but we’re excited about his trajectory and what he can bring to our organization.”

Bruins General Manager don sweeney

While eyes have been steadily focused on Lohrei and Fabian Lysell, Matthew Poitras is quickly gaining attention. At six-feet and 182 pounds, Poitras may not have the size of Lohrei, but his hockey I.Q. is certainly impressing the Bruins’ brass:

 “…He had a terrific year and his hockey sense, his skill, really stand out for us. The pace of play and the strength of play against NHL players is what dictates whether a player can make that jump. It’s a big jump, but we really like his hockey IQ, and he needs to focus on being a little bit more shot ready, I think he’s a pass first guy, but he sneaky has a really good shot.

So, maybe that just needs to develop a little more and know when to be selfish in certain situations, but he’ll get a chance in camp to hopefully see that translate, I think he’ll play… I know Monty was talking about different players and opportunity and we’ll see. He’ll make the progression through Rookie Camp and then get into main camp and see if they can’t get into exhibition games and they’ll be several of those guys and Matthew is one of them.”

bruins general manager don sweeney

More to Come

Earlier this week the Boston Bruins announced a two-year deal for 23-year-old forward Jakub Lauko. The Czech Republic (Czechia) native signed a two-way contract for the 2023-24 season and a one-way contract for the 2024-25 season and was originally drafted by Boston in the third round (77th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. 

The six-foot-one, 196-pound forward split his time between Providence and Boston this past season. In Boston, he played in 23 NHL games and tallied four goals with three assists for seven points. Meanwhile down in Providence, he appeared in 35 AHL games, posting 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points.

Boston also announced the signing of goaltender Kyle Keyser to a one-year, two-way contract with an NHL cap hit of $775,000. The 24-year-old, six-foot-two, 186-pound goaltender appeared in 24 AHL games with Providence this past season. The netminder posted a 13-6-2-1 record with a 2.79 goals against average and .900 save percentage.

Keyser has appeared in 68 career AHL games with Providence, posting a 28-25-11-2 record with a 2.79 goals against average and .904 save percentage. The Coral Springs, Florida native was originally signed by Boston in October 2017 as a free agent.

This and That

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced this past week that they have hired former Boston Bruins Assistant Coach John Gruden to become the Toronto Marlies (AHL) eighth head coach in team history.

Gruden heads up north after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach for the Boston Bruins (2022-23) and the New York Islanders (2018-22). He succeeds Greg Moore, who was let go in May after the team was swept in the first round of the American Hockey League playoffs. 

Gruden also served as a head coach in the Ontario Hockey League for two seasons during which the Hamilton Bulldogs captured the J. Ross Robertson Cup in 2018 after a 43-18-7 regular-season record.

The 53-year-old sat on the bench with Bruins Head Coach Jim Montgomery during this past season’s historical run. A native of Virginia, Minnesota, Gruden himself was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 1990 NHL Draft (168th overall) and appeared in 92 NHL games and 175 AHL games.

One Final Note

To round out the end of the week, there’s still no word on the signings of restricted free agents Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic and Ian Mitchell (who was recently acquired from the Blackhawks in the Taylor Hall deal). All three players filed for salary arbitration this past week and will continue to negotiate with the hopes of getting things done prior to the July 20th hearing:

“We’re all working hard on that front. Having pretty much constant dialogue with all three players and representatives…that’s always the hope. We know there’s a path and there will be a right solution on the other side and one way or another they will be part of our organization, so it’s just a tool in the toolbox, that either player elects or the club elects and you go through. But hopefully we can. It’s not the ultimate goal for anybody on either side but it is a path that determines if the player will be back.” 

bosto bruins general manager don sweeney

With Sweeney signing free-agent veterans to low-budget deals, the team has a payroll of some $6.2 million-below the league’s new $83.5 million salary cap. Both Frederic and Swayman should and will most likely take a substantial bite out of that $6.2 million. It will interesting to see the Opening Night Roster this upcoming October.