July 1 was a busy day in free agency for Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney. With cap restrictions causing the Bruins to let all of their unrestricted free agents find other homes, Boston chose to sign low-cost, short-term veterans to help fill out the roster for the 2023-24 season. In doing so, Sweeney has elected not to roll the dice and let upcoming prospects fill those spots while creating internal competition at many positions, particularly in the bottom-six forward group.
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Many of these prospects will attend Bruins Development Camp at Warrior Arena starting Monday. The group is filled with promising young players, including many of the Bruins’ draft picks over the last few years. Here are some players to watch during the five-day camp:
Fabian Lysell attends his first development camp since being drafted in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft by Boston. Lysell spent last season with the Bruins’ American Hockey League affiliate Providence Bruins, played 54 games, and registered 14 goals and 23 assists with a minus-12 rating. The Baby Bruins lost their playoff series in three games, and Lysell posted just one assist as the team struggled offensively. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound winger had his ups and downs in his first professional season but also showed flashes of brilliance.
The 20-year-old forward will be given every chance this fall to make the Bruins’ roster. Lysell and Providence linemate Georgii Merkulov are two forwards who the Bruins might need to count on as the team works through salary cap issues and a possibility of lineup juggling. Centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci might not return to the team, and Talor Hall was traded to make room for another winger. Adding Lysell would give the Bruins a low-cost option in their forward group.
Brett Harrison was drafted in the third round in 2021 by Boston and had a great season in the Ontario Hockey League last year, scoring a combined 34 goals with 35 assists in 57 games with Windsor and Oshawa. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound center plays physically, hunts pucks and space, and can score goals.
Harrison was unable to make training camp last season after suffering a shoulder injury. The 20-year-old has spent three seasons in the OHL and signed a three-year entry-level contract with Boston last August worth $2.8 million.
Matthew Poitras, the Bruins’ 2022 second-round pick, will also be in attendance after a sparkling year in the OHL with the Guelph Storm, where the young center totaled 95 points in 63 games. The slick playmaking forward was a nominee for the Red Tilson Award for Most Outstanding Player in the OHL. Past recipients of this prestigious award are a long list of players who became top NHL players. John Tavares, Tyler Seguin, Connor McDavid, Mitchell Marner, Alex DeBrincat, and Jordan Kyrou have all won the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player award in past years. Poitras’ 79 assists were second in franchise history and fourth in league history.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound forward appeared in 68 games with Guelph in his first OHL season in 2021-22, registering 21 goals and 29 assists for 50 points. Poitras participated in the Bruins Rookie Development Camp last summer, where he stood out in drills and in the camp’s 3-on-3 tournament, which he won with his teammates Riley Duran, Quinn Olson, Marc McLaughlin, Michael Callahan, Dans Locmelis, Mason Langenbrunner and goalie Philip Svedeback.
Mason Lohrei will attend his third development camp. Last summer, Lohrei was rehabbing an injury and could not participate but did attend. Lohrei signed an AHL amateur tryout agreement (ATO) to finish out the regular season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) and also play in the playoffs. Lohrei is the Bruins’ top defensive prospect for a reason.
His big frame and long reach have helped him become a shutdown defenseman in college, and his offensive game has been getting better and better. There is no doubt that there has been a progression in his game in his two years in college. Last season with the Buckeyes, Lohrei scored four goals with 28 assists in 40 games and played almost half the game on average. In May, the big defenseman signed a two-year entry-level deal with Boston.
Other players who will be showcased in camp are forward Dans Locmelis, a 2019 fourth-round pick headed to UMass-Amherst, Boston College forwards Andre Gasseau and Oskar Jellvik, Providence College forward Riley Duran, and defenseman Frederic Brunet who played one game with two assists for the Providence Bruins last season and has climbed the charts since being drafted in the fifth round in 2022.
The camp runs from July 3 through July 7 and is full of Bruins prospects who will have a chance to make the NHL roster in training camp in September.