According to an NHL executive source, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was scrambling to make a trade Monday afternoon so that he could fit 22-year-old rookie defenseman Mason Lohrei into the Bruins’ opening night roster.
The Boston Bruins and all NHL teams have until 5 p.m. ET to submit their 2023-24 opening night roster.
“He’s working the phones and has been all weekend, I can tell you that,” the source told Boston Hockey Now at 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday. “Lohrei earned a spot. Donny and Cam [Neely] know that, and they want him to have it.”
That may have been why Sweeney and Neely booked it off the stage and out the Legends Club at TD Garden after addressing reporters at the team’s annual Media Day on Monday morning. Before they did, though, Sweeney did give an update on Lohrei’s roster status and his assessment of the 22-year-old’s training camp and preseason.
“We haven’t made a final decision about what our top six will look like. But we have a pretty good idea,” the Bruins GM said. “So, we have one more roster decision to make before we hit opening night, but Mason has made the difficult decision.”
As reported here, Sweeney, as he did throughout the offseason, has been gauging the NHL trade market on the trade interest in Bruins veteran defensemen Derek Forbort and Matt Grzelcyk. On Sept. 27, one NHL pro scout told BHN that there was interest in Grzelcyk, who is entering the final season of a four-year, $14.7 million contract that carries a $3.6 million salary cap hit.
“I don’t really know about Forbort, but I can tell you that teams are interested in Grzelcyk,” the scout told BHN back on Sept 27. “Maybe Donny [Sweeney] should ring up Kyle [Davidson] again in Chicago? Grzelcyk is better than any left-shot D they have now, and they have cap space. He could be great on their powerplay.”
As for Mason Lohrei, despite the fact there was a packed Providence Bruins bag on the ground in front of his TD Garden dressing room stall, he confirmed to BHN that, as far as he knew (at 12:30 p.m. ET), he was still on the Bruins’ NHL roster.
“Obviously, you want to be here,” Lohrei replied when asked if he understood and accepted that, at this point, it’s a salary cap issue if he doesn’t start the season in Boston. “That’s why you play the game from a young age, to play in this league, and now for me to play for this organization. I think I did my best to earn that spot and make the decision difficult for them. I believe in my abilities.”