(Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Coming into the 2023-24 season, Matt Poitras was not a player expected to make the NHL roster. But after having a very impressive training camp and preseason while leading the team in points, he earned a roster spot with the Boston Bruins. 

The 19-year-old also got off to a strong regular season start, recording five points in his first ten games. In addition to the point production, he was making creative plays and looked like he belonged in the NHL. However, a recent decline in his play resulted in him being sent to play for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

Canada was eliminated from the tournament today after losing to Czechia, so Poitras will return to the Bruins. He had a line of 2-2-4 in five games at the World Juniors. With Poitras clearly still adjusting to a heavy NHL schedule and the recent emergence of Morgan Geekie at the center position, where will the 2022 second-round pick slot go back into the Boston lineup? 

Poitras has played 27 games for the Black and Gold and has a line of 5-8-13. The young center found himself on a short leash during the month of December after he was benched and a healthy scratch a few times. It’s not easy for a guy his age to play consistently great hockey, and there’s guaranteed to be growing pains. He has also found himself being targeted by opponents more and more as the season has gone on. 

In his last game with the Bruins, Poitras was driven hard into the boards before joining Team Canada against the New York Rangers. He briefly left the game, but he did return. That is something he has had to deal with more and more recently. It’s a good thing in some ways because it means he’s earned the respect of other teams in the league. But it’s still something he’s going to have to get used to if he wants to be in the lineup regularly. 

Poitras will most likely see less playing time upon returning to the Bruins, but that might benefit him. Head coach Jim Montgomery has shuffled around the lines lately, with Morgan Geekie, Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic, and John Beecher as the four centers. It will be interesting to see if Poitras will return to playing in the middle or if he gets moved to get a look on the wing. 

One thing Montgomery could do as well is alternate Poitras and Beecher as the fourth-line center, which would allow each rookie to stay fresh. Both guys have seemed tired at times this season, and that’s an option that could work for both. 

Going to play at the World Juniors should be a good thing for Poitras, as it allows him to almost reset upon returning to the Bruins. Regardless of his recent struggles in the NHL, he should undoubtedly still be a regular part of the Bruins lineup, but it will be interesting to see what his role will be for the remainder of the season.