The time has arrived! Each and every Boston Bruins prospect not playing in the AHL or ECHL have begun their 2021-2022 season as the NCAA and OHL got into full swing last week. That is except for one. John Beecher will miss four weeks for the Michigan Wolverines with an upper body injury, which is not related to the shoulder in which he had surgery on earlier this year according to the team.
Friday’s season opener was the Wolverines’ 3000th game in their history and Beecher would have loved to have been a part of that.
Beecher wasn’t the only prospect to miss time with an injury. Fabian Lysell, the Bruins top prospect and first round pick at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft missed the Vancouver Giants home opener on Friday. The Giants officially list Lysell as day-to-day with an upper body injury after a harmless collision with an opponent sent both players to the bench very late in the contest and did not see another shift in the game.
This week, my focus is on Mason Lohrei, but beware, I am beginning with a rant.
When the Bruins selected Lohrei with the 58th pick at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, I really had no opinion on the pick. I was alright with it. There was however, a segment of the Bruins fandom that were not thrilled at all. “Why would they use a second-round pick on an older guy who wasn’t picked last year?” was the sentiment on Twitter and chat boards at the time.
In his draft plus one year, Lohrei had a phenomenal season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL scoring 19 goals and 40 assists and finishing a plus-24 in just 48 games.
The small group of fans who a summer earlier were questioning selecting an “overager” had now turned their focus to “he’s doing it against kids. He should be in the NCAA.” As condescending as this may sound, it needs to be said – “some of the fans making those comments have no idea how the USHL works, what type of league it is and they have no understanding of NCAA scholarships and how they work.”
Those of you that know me know that my focus is covering the OHL and have been following the league since the early 1970’s. I have also been on record for at least three years now saying the USHL is the best development league in the world. I have also gone to great lengths to explain why I believe that. I am confident Lohrei was in a good situation with Green Bay.
I have also been forced into debates when someone says “well he wouldn’t put up those kinds of points in the CHL”. That statement could be 100% accurate or it could just as easily be 100% inaccurate. The fact of the matter is we will never know. Both leagues come with their pros and cons but to say something as 100% certainty with no way of ever being able to prove it is just, well, asinine.
This is limited to just a handful of people, but there are those that hope a player fails. In the last year and a half, I have received 4 messages that use some form of the phrase “I hope he busts just so I can tell you ‘I told you so.’” It’s sad that something like that exists but one must also remember that when they say something on the internet, it is there forever – and I will never forget. I will never being able to understand who a Bruins fan can not just cheer on a prospect, no matter where they are playing.
Lohrei opened up his NCAA career with a goal and followed that up with a helper in his second game. As you can see in the tweet by my good friend @BruinsNetwork Lohrei possesses the instincts, patience, hockey IQ and vision to be an offensive force. This wasn’t against “16- and 17-year-old” players.
Here is what one independent scouting service had to say about Lohrei for the 2020 draft after not including him at all it 2019:
Lohrei possesses decent skating agility for a big kid. He can cover a lot of ice east-west in a defensive posture using his feet and reach. Needs to continue to work on his awareness in his own zone, and for a defenseman his size, is not hard to play against and needs to develop more sandpaper in his game. In too many viewings Lohrei got out worked in front of his own net and didn’t make things hard enough for his opponents. His play in his own zone is what is keeping him from being a higher caliber prospect at this stage. His first few strides need to continue to develop but as he continues to fill out, he should add some explosiveness to his skating going forward. Lohrei is a smart puck moving defenseman who plays within his skill set very well and doesn’t try to do things he isn’t capable of. Mason uses good vision and accurate passing coming out of his own end and looks to stretch the ice and connect with home run passes when they are available. Mason has good puck protection abilities but is susceptible of getting pressured from behind on the breakout so his footspeed is a red flag and will need to improve before he can be considered a legitimate NHL prospect. In the offensive zone Lohrei works the top of the umbrella well on the power play and does a good job switching and getting into a shooting position with regularity. Shows good vision of the offensive zone and can quickly identify and get pucks through lanes but doesn’t do a lot to open things up on his own from the point position.
I’m going to focus on the skating here for two reasons: 1) since Lohrei was drafted, there have been a few prospect scribes questioning his skating and, 2) because some fans don’t see it. So, I took it upon myself to ask two skating coaches to break down his skating using both video and still photos.
Both agreed that Lohrei is a fine skater, but could use some adjustment to his technique. Both coaches looked to his Ankle Dorsiflexion as an issue. It’s an issue easily solved by trying a different skate or by loosening how tight he ties the top two eyelets on his boot. Trust me, I too had to look up the details of Ankle Dorsiflexion and you can read about that here.
The only other issue the pair brought up about Lohrei’s skating is that he could generate more power, speed and strength by using the “Sit Down” position in his skating. In many of the videos they watched, Lohrei was too upright at times. Both agreed that as a hockey player, Lohrei is an above average skater but with some minor tweaks he could become even better.
For now, I will leave it at this and will do a further breakdown as the season progresses.
Around the globe
After going pointless in his first 3 games, Oskar Jellvik is on a 4-game point streak. Mason Lohrei has a point in each of his first two NCAA games. Andre Gasseau has 4 goals in 3 games. Jake Schmaltz with 3 goals and an assist in his first two college games becomes the first freshman to score in his first two games since Drew Stafford accomplished it during the 2003-2004 season.
The once sizzling hot Peter Cehlarik is pointless in 2 consecutive games.
Through 9 games, Roman Bychkov has yet to register a point. Ditto for Linus Arnesson through 8 games. Matias Mantykivi is pointless in his last 5 games. Jack Becker opened up the season with 2 goals and an assist and is pointless in his last 3 games. Slow start for Brett Harrison with one helper in 2 games.
Finally, here is something new for you. On a scale from one to five, what are the chances of any of these players ever lacing up the skates for your Boston Bruins. This is of course a subjective list and not everyone is going to agree. What is taken into consideration here is: the player’s development curve to date, what he is projected to become, the player’s age and where he is playing, communicating with people in the game and most importantly, how he fits in the Bruins depth chart.
A low score doesn’t necessarily mean that player won’t play in the NHL, it means it may not be with the Bruins particularly because of depth at that position. Of course, as time moves forward, this list will change.
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