(Photo Credit: Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

By: Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter / X @adbblue

With the 58th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NHL draft, the Boston Bruins selected defenseman Mason Lohrei from the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. He then played two seasons at Ohio State University and was the team’s top-scoring blueliner twice.

Lohrei finished the season with AHL affiliate Providence last year, recording one point in five games. He did not make the NHL roster out of training camp this season, but injuries on the back end have resulted in him getting extended opportunities with the big club. It’s evident his game has developed more for each game he plays. 

The 6’5 defenseman has played in 18 games for Boston and has a line of 3-3-6. He has shown how strong his offensive awareness is in multiple ways. Moving the puck through the neutral zone is one of his best attributes, especially with the stretch pass. Several times this season, he’s made tape-to-tape passes from the defensive zone all the way to the attacking blue line. That is a great trait for a puck-moving defenseman as it helps generate odd-man rushes. 

In the attacking zone, the 22-year-old shows great poise having a strong ability to move laterally, which is great for the high-to-low game. He is also a great puck distributor and knows how to work the puck in from up top. Furthermore, Lohrei has a great shot and uses it often, as he’s registered 29 shots on goal while attempting 52 this season for a percentage of 10.3%. Another offensive trait he has is the ability to join the rush and drive the net, which we saw with his goal against the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night.

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native has shown he can contribute offensively in the NHL. However, it’s his defensive game that still needs some work. Lohrei has averaged 17:24 time on ice per game, which is pretty significant for a rookie defenseman, and playing that much is gonna yield mistakes. One thing he needs to improve on is his puck retrieval in the defensive zone. There have been a lot of times where he gets to the puck first but has had trouble making a decision with it. This has resulted in him turning the puck over for a total of ten giveaways this season. 

Lohrei has also, at times, had trouble getting back when the opposition is in transition and occasionally gets beat to the outside. Additionally, he’s struggled with establishing his positioning and staying with his guy in the defensive zone. As a result, head coach Jim Montgomery has benched him a couple of times this season, but to his credit, Lohrei responds well. 

That has resulted in Lohrei improving his defensive game throughout the season, and he is slowly learning. In his last five games, he is a combined +4 and has not finished any game with a minus. He has been primarily paired with Charlie McAvoy, which certainly helps, but it’s noticeable that Lohrei has progressed a ton since his first stint with the Bruins. Once he fully develops his defensive game, he is going to be a stud for many seasons to come.