The Boston Bruins did not have a pick on day one of the National Hockey League Entry Draft as they traded their first-round pick at the trade deadline in the Hampus Lindholm deal. Their first pick came on day two of the draft and the Bruins used the 54th overall pick to select center Matthew Poitras of the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League.
Poitras entered the season as an A prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch List. By the time Central Scouting released their mid-term rankings, Poitras was ranked 23rd among North American Skaters. On their final list, he had fallen to 45th.
On my own OHL rankings, I had Poitras as a top 10 selection from the OHL. On my own final rankings, I had him 13th among OHL players.
The first question that needs to be tackled is: why did he drop? I still maintain the lost season due to the pandemic cost Poitras and all OHL Players a year of development. Furthermore, there was no previous season to base what his trajectory was in terms of development. The reason there were so many Europeans drafted in the first round is because there was a larger sample size with them and that is what affected the OHL. That’s not to say those Europeans selected were not worthy, but they were “safer”.
The second question that needs to be addressed is the skating. Various different public rankings guides give mixed reviews about Poitras skating. (Hopefully, you’ve read mine above). His mechanics are great, his edgework is very impressive and he is strong on his skates. In other words, the base is there for him to be an excellent skater. What is lacking is an explosiveness in his speed as well as a separation gear and if that makes him a poor skater then I don’t know what to say. Any skating coach will tell you it all starts with the mechanics. It’s easier to teach speed then it is to change a skater’s mechanics that he has been accustomed to for years. And that is why I have no issue with his skating.
Poitras is one of the hardest working players you’ll find in the draft class and his motor never seems to stop. His tenacity on the puck whether on the forecheck or defending is excellent. Put him in the middle or the wing (he can play both positions) and you get the same kind of effort.
Poitras also thinks the game at a very high level. He has an ability to buy himself and his teammates time and space and to set them up for scoring chances. He’s also not shy about taking the puck to the net and releasing an excellent shot. However, I do believe that he needs to work on the accuracy of his shot and to better utilize shooting for second chance opportunities.
If he’s going to play down the middle at the next level, Poitras is definitely going to need to work at his trade on the faceoff dot. Bruins fans are spoiled in that area having watched Patrice Bergeron over the years. It’s not a strength for Poitras after winning just 328 of 692 faceoff attempts or, 47.4%.
There isn’t one particular skill set that says Poitras will be an NHL’er one day. There are certainly things he needs to work on such as finding that extra gear in his skating, especially for a “smaller” player. He will also need to be more physical. What I do know is that he will put in the effort. There is no questioning that. And if he reaches his full potential, the Bruins have themselves a middle six player who they could play in any situation.
Welcome to Boston Matthew and good luck!
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