Boston Bruins rookie center Matt Poitras can start looking for a permanent residence in Boston soon.
On Tuesday morning, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery confirmed that Poitras will play his tenth game on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. As a result, Poitras will not return to his OHL team, the Guelph Storm. As as result, Poitras will burn the first year of his three-year, $2.6 million ($870,000 cap hit) contract.
“He’s sticking around,” Montgomery said of the 19-year-old center who broke camp with the Bruins on Oct. 9 and has been a welcome surprise with three goals and two assists in nine games.
Montgomery was then asked how easy Poitras made the decision for him, his coaching staff, and the team brass over the first nine games of the season. While he continued to praise his young pivot, Montgomery did make a point to remind the media in attendance that just because Poitras will burn the first year of his three-year, entry-level contract by playing in his tenth game on Thursday, that doesn’t mean he won’t be playing for the Storm again this season.
“I think his play, he’s earned it,” the Bruins bench boss replied. “I think we’re comfortable with him. There’s still no guarantees here for the rest of the year, but we feel that the way he’s progressed, that for the time being, he’s going to be a Bruin, and he’s helping us win hockey games, and that’s the most important thing, right? He’s still 19, so we’re going to be cautious.”
Matt Poitras, who was drafted 54th overall at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, has played bigger than his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame. However, that doesn’t mean, at some point, the Bruins won’t apply the load management schedule that the Anaheim Ducks have applied with 2023 second overall pick Leo Carlsson this season.
“We’re definitely going to look at it, but right now, in our situation, we can’t with where we are health-wise,” Montgomery said.
Until that point comes, though, Jim Montgomery and the Boston Bruins are optimistic that the surprisingly gritty Poitras can handle the physical and mental rigors of playing in the NHL.
“What’s appealing to us is every time you start to think ‘well, this might be too much’ – whether it was an exhibition or these nine games, he just always finds a way, and it’s like ‘well, he belongs,’ and he just belongs,” Montgomery said of Poitras ascension into the lineup.
What’s stood out the most in those situations where the coaching and management staff maybe expected the young Poitras to hit a wall has been his grit and resilience.
“I think that’s why – the number one reason – why he’s going to play a tenth game is because of that,” Montgomery pointed out. “We see the hockey IQ; we see the skill, we see the vision, but if you don’t compete, you don’t have natural second and third effort, especially at such a young age. It’s hard to stay in this league, and that’s been the quality that’s. …the best quality as to why we think he’s earned this.”