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Counting Down the Top-Ten Bruins Prospects: #1 Mason Lohrei

(Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis and Linktree

The regular season opener is just a day away as the Boston Bruins prepare to take the ice for the first time in their centennial season. As the long wait for hockey’s return ends, so does Black N’ Gold Hockey’s ranking of Boston’s top ten prospects. Without further adieu, the number one prospect in the Bruins system is Mason Lohrei.

The Madison, WI native joined the Bruins organization when he was taken with the 58th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NHL Draft. Lohrie was coming off his first full USHL season, putting up eight goals, 29 assists, and 37 points in 48 games for the Green Bay Gamblers. Lohrei put fans on notice when he returned to Green Bay in 2020-21, notching 19 goals, 40 assists, and 59 points in 48 games.

The highly-touted defenseman matriculated to the NCAA in 21-22, where he skated for Ohio State. Lohrei spent two years with the Buckeyes, scoring eight goals, 53 assists, and 61 points across his freshman and sophomore campaigns. Lohrei spent five games with the Providence Bruins before the end of last season, posting one assist in five games.

It’s easy to see why the Bruins organization thinks it hit the jackpot with the 6’5″, 211-pound Lohrei. He has a unique combination of size, skating, and skill that NHL front offices dream of, and he’s only 22 years old. His ability to jumpstart the breakout and quickly generate offense is the part of his game that stands out most to me. He expertly eludes forecheckers, whether through slick stickhandling, impressive skating, or brute strength and has the speed to keep up with his teammates once he makes that first pass.

When I saw him in person for the first time at Bruins Development Camp this summer, I was borderline shocked at how smooth of a skater he is. His strides are so long and effortless that he makes moving up and down the ice look easy, especially considering his size. But Lohrei doesn’t just have straight-line speed; he’s incredibly shifty and has impressive lateral quickness. He has beautiful footwork when patrolling the offensive blueline and uses expert edgework to change speeds and evade defenders in tight spaces.

Lohrei’s offensive instincts and high hockey IQ make him an excellent powerplay quarterback. He has a strong slap shot and a quick wrist shot, which he can easily release and navigate through traffic. He’s a great passer with the patience to wait for seams to open up and the ability to complete tape-to-tape passes in tight windows. His offensive game is so fun to watch.

Lohrei uses his frame well in his own zone to shield pucks on the forecheck and muscle away oncoming opponents. His long reach allows him to break up rushes before they get going, and he exhibits good instincts when reading passes and gambling on takeaways. He doesn’t play as heavy a game as some other NHL defenders his size, but he effectively eliminates chances, keeps opponents to the outside, and gets pucks out of danger.

Lohrei may be Boston’s top prospect, but that doesn’t mean his game is without flaws. I’ve raved about how dynamic he is with the puck on his stick, but his positioning could use some work when his team doesn’t have the puck.

He’s wildly confident in his abilities, which can sometimes be detrimental to his game. Sometimes, he’ll pass up the easy play in an attempt to make a lower percentage, complex play despite what’s in front of him. These issues are minor in the grand scheme of things, but they’re what the organization will want him to work on in Providence.

I’m in the minority of most Bruins fans because I favor Lohrei spending the first part of this season in the AHL. He needs as many minutes as possible to season him for NHL action, and he’ll get those top-pairing, impactful minutes in Providence that he won’t get in Boston.

When you take a look at Lohrei’s future, it’s difficult not to be excited by what could be. In my opinion, his floor is a fourth or fifth defenseman who contributes to the power play and can give you meaningful minutes. His ceiling, however, is an elite top-four defenseman who skates over 20 minutes a night, works on both special teams units, and impacts the game night in and night out.

If the organization plays this right, the Bruins could have a stalwart on their blue line for years to come.

1 Comment

  1. midlaj

    The Brothers Talk Gun seem to have a promising prospect in Mason Lohrei. His combination of size, skating, and skill is definitely an asset, and his ability to jumpstart the breakout and generate offense is a standout feature. The description of his smooth skating, long strides, and impressive footwork makes it clear that he possesses the agility and mobility needed for a modern defenseman. It will be exciting to see how he continues to develop and contribute to the Bruins in their centennial season.

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