Some of the Bruins brass were visible in the OHL last week. Obviously, they are doing some prep work for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, but also, Matthew Poitras and Jackson Edward are looking to sign Entry Level Contracts. But I ask myself whether they are keeping tabs on Development Camp invitee James Hardie of the Mississauga Steelheads who has 36 goals and 35 assists in 51 games this season and wondering about a free agent contract. The left winger is currently 4th in the OHL in goals.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the Bruins were going to need to make a decision on Quinn Olson – and Dustyn McFaul for that matter. Since that weekend, Olson has been on his best offensive production in his 4 years with Minnesota-Duluth scoring 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 games.
NHL trade deadline is less than 2 weeks away and there was some internet chatter on Sunday about the Bruins looking to make a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets that would involve among other pieces, Mason Lohrei. I’m not sure there is any truth to the rumor as circulated and frankly, I find it ridiculous so if you missed it, I’m not even going to share it.
In speaking with a few people around the NHL however, they do believe Lohrei is the Bruins best trade chip. Even more than their first-round pick in 2023, even more than Fabian Lysell. The latter kind of surprised me but it’s the ole defenceman versus winger debate that we won’t get into right now.
There is no question that General Manager Don Sweeney has been working the phones for the best possible deal he can make to improve this hockey club but cap restraints means he’s going to have to dump some salary and that will cost even more.
I’m sure if the right deal came along, the Bruins would think long and hard about trading Lohrei. While I don’t believe there is any such thing as untouchables, the Bruins are pretty high on Lohrei and he fits into the long term vision Sweeney has for this club.
Lohrei is probably best suited to anchoring the second pair for Boston one day. There is always the option of playing him on the top pair with Charlie McAvoy and having Hampus Lindholm anchor the second pair. Simply, he gives them options and a luxury most other teams dream of.
There was also a rumor circulating that the Bruins are trying to make a totally prospect related trade when it comes to their assets. Along with Lohrei and Lysell, you have to imagine there might be some interest around the NHL in Georgii Merkulov who is having a very good rookie season with Providence. There may not be any room with the big club for Jack Ahcan in the foreseeable future and the Bruins could be trying to include him in a package. A team looking for a young goaltender will certainly be looking at Brandon Bussi. No one, including the Bruins expected the type of season he’s having.
Of the non professional players besides Lohrei, I would think the most value comes from Poitras and Brett Harrison. Of course, they are further away and would be a sweetener in a deal and not the main piece.
On Sunday, Frederic Brunet became the first defenceman in the QMJHL to reach the 60-point plateau. He is the 5th CHL defenceman to reach the mark – 2 from the WHL and 2 from the OHL. When I put that information on Twitter, I was asked if he could turn into a Garry Galley type at the next level. If you know me, I hate player comparisons and stay as far away as possible from them. That said, and I’m not just looking at on ice but the paths travelled, I’m drawn to Keith Yandle. Obviously, both took different routes to the QMJHL. Both were late birthdays and passed over in their first draft years. They were both selected in the middle of the draft within 27 spots of each other 17 years apart. In his draft plus-1 year, Yandle led QMJHL defencemen in scoring. Frederic is heading that way now. Yandle won the Emile Bouchard Trophy as the QMJHL Defenceman of the Year; Brunet will be a finalist. Yandle also won the CHL Defenceman of the Year and if Brunet wins the QMJHL version, he will be a finalist for the award.
I’m not suggesting Brunet will turn into a Yandle at the next level but the similarities are evident at this point.
Here’s a look at the Providence Bruins leaders:
Coming up this week:
|PLAYER||MON 20||TUE 21||WED 22||THU 23||FRI 24||SAT 25||SUN 26|
|MANTYKIVI||At JYP||At TAP||At K K|
|LOCMELIS||At FRO||At R BK|
|MYRENBERG||Vs KRI||At VAS||Vs ALM|
|JELLVIK/GASSEAU/KUNTAR||At MNE||At MNE|
|LOHREI||At MIN||At MIN|
|LANGENBRUNNER||At St L||At CLK|
|SPICER/OLSON||Vs MIA||Vs MIA|
|SCHMALTZ||At COL||At COL|
|GALLAGHER||At VER||At VER|
|MCFAUL||At DAR||At HVD|
|POITRAS||Vs O S||Vs SOO||Vs LDN|
|HARRISON||At LDN||At PBO||At OTT||At KGN|
|MAST||Vs FNT||At LDN||At SAG||Vs NB|
|EDWARD||Vs WSR||Vs SAR||At O S||At GUE|
|BRUNET||At QUE||Vs HAL||Vs DRU|
|DYCK||Vs WPG||Vs KAM||At M J||Vs M J|
AROUND THE GLOBE
Dans Locmelis had 2 goals and an assist on Friday to extend his point streak to 3 games on 5 goals and 2 assists. It catapulted Locmelis into top spot in the J20 Nationell Top-10 scoring race entering the weekend where his team was idle.
Matthew Poitras is on a 7-game point streak on 1 goal and 10 assists. Poitras has only been shutout in back-to-back situations twice this year – for two games at the start of the new year and 3 games back in October.
Trevor Kuntar is on a 6-game point streak with 5 goals and 2 assists. It’s the second time this season he has had a 6-game point streak where he had 2 goals and 5 assists back in a November stretch. 6 of his 13 goals on the season have come with the man advantage.
Quinn Olson has points in 5 of his last 6 games on 3 goals and 3 assists. The 3rd round pick at the 2019 Entry Draft is in his final year of college.
Andre Gasseau has points in 7 of his last 9 games with 2 goals and 9 assists in that span. With 6 goals and 17 assists on the season, Gasseau has surpassed what I reasonably could have expected from his freshman season.
Brett Harrison is putting up points in bunches – when he’s putting up points. In his last 5 games he has points in 3 of them. And those points come in the form of 5 goals and 6 assists.
Mason Lohrei may just be at 100%. He’s currently on a 3 game point streak on a goal and 2 assists. It may not be his best offensive stretch of the season, but we are seeing the things that made him successful a season ago more regularly now and that’s a good sign.
Ryan Mast has 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 10 games on an absolutely stacked Sarnia Sting roster (after trade deadline). In that time, the Sting have outscored their opponents 52-27 and Mast has been doing it at both ends of the ice. He went from top PP time before trade deadline to virtually no PP time afterwards but he’s still getting it done.
Frederic Brunet ended a 3-game pointless streak on Saturday with a 2-assist effort. He followed that up with a goal on Sunday afternoon. Despite having a 3-game pointless streak, he still has 5 goals and 9 assists in his last 10 games, as a defenceman.
Ty Gallagher is pointless in 6 games and the player I feel most for here because he is just capable of more. And as stated so many times before, he is not put in the best offensive situations so his numbers take a hit. That said, I love how he’s coming along defensively. Consider this: He’s tied for the best plus/minus on the BU backend with Lane Hutson who has over twice as many points.
Jonathan Myrenberg acquired by the Bruins in the Jack Studnicka trade from the Vancouver Canucks is pointless in 9 games. I’m not sure what I expected after the trade but I think I expected more than 4 goals and 4 assists in 43 games playing for Mora IK in the Allsvenskan in Sweden. At times he has displayed the talent that intrigued the Bruins.
Mason Langenbrunner is pointless in 10 games and has just 1 goal in 26 games on the season. He is a freshman who is getting his feet wet in the NCAA so it’s not a major concern to me at this point.
At the beginning I mentioned Hardie. Here’s a look at the players the Bruins invited to rookie camp last summer and how they are doing in their respective leagues. Another player to keep an eye on is the University of North Dakota’s Riese Gaber.