The much-anticipated NHL debut of Boston Bruins top prospect Mason Lohrei will happen on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery confirmed after practice on Wednesday that Lohrei will be in the lineup and paired with veteran defenseman Brandon Carlo on Thursday night.
Just prior to the noon practice, the Boston Bruins announced that they had recalled the highly-touted rookie defenseman, along with fellow rearguard Ian Mitchell and Parker Wotherspoon from the Providence Bruins (AHL).
The Bruins also announced that defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (upper-body) is on long-term injury reserve, and forward Jakub Lauko (facial fracture) is on injured reserve.
With the Boston Bruins losing Grzelcyk in the first period of their 3-2 overtime win over the Florida Panthers on Monday night and then his defensive partner Charlie McAvoy being suspended for four games on Tuesday night (for a headshot on Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Monday), the Bruins were expected to recall at least two defensemen on Wednesday. Plenty of Bruins fans were hoping that one of those defensemen would be highly touted, 22-year-old rookie Mason Lohrei, who had a very strong training camp and preseason for the Bruins and was the final roster cut on Oct. 9.
A series of paper transactions last Friday saw Lohrei briefly be recalled to Boston, but that lasted just a few hours, and Lohrei never even practiced with the big club. However, reading between the tea leaves when Lohrei, Mitchell, and Wotherspoon didn’t go on the Providence Bruins current road trip, it appeared that the NHL debut of the 58th overall pick from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft would take place on Thursday against the Maple Leafs.
Lohrei, 22, had an assist in five games with the Providence Bruins last season, and through seven games with the P-Bruins this season, Lohrei has four assists.
Mitchell, 24, was placed on waivers last Wednesday and was assigned to Providence when he cleared the following day. Mitchell has one assist in two NHL games with the Bruins this season. He also played in two AHL games with Providence, recording one assist. The 6-foot, 192-pound defenseman was acquired, along with defenseman Alec Regula, from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for winger Taylor Hall and the free agent signing rights to Nick Foligno on June 26. Mitchell had a goal and seven assists in 35 NHL games with the Blackhawks last season. The Bruins then signed Mitchell to a one-year, $775,000 contract on July 10.
The Bruins signed Wotherspoon, 26, to a one-year, two-way contract that carries an NHL cap hit of $775,000 on July 1. He has appeared in six games with Providence this season, recording one assist. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defenseman has played in 299 career AHL games with Providence, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and Bridgeport Islanders, totaling 22 goals and 87 assists for 109 points. Wotherspoon has appeared in 12 career NHL games, recording one assist. Wotherspoon was originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the fourth round (112th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Here’s what the roster looked like at practice on Wednesday:
*Brad Marchand was given a maintenance day and Derek Forbort is questionable for Thursday.
Pavel Zacha-Matt Poitras-David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen-Charlie Coyle-Jake DeBrusk
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Geekie-Trent Frederic
John Beecher-Patrick Brown-Oskar Steen
Hampus Lindholm-Kevin Shattenkirk
Mason Lohrei-Brandon Carlo
Parker Wotherspoon-Ian Mitchell