Given the necessity the Boston Bruins have for capable top nine centers right now, and thanks to the salary cap, likely until at least the March 8 NHL Trade Deadline, Matt Poitras’ game would have to take a nosedive for him to wind up playing for the Guelph Storm (OHL) again.
However, after announcing that Poitras was sticking around on Tuesday, Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery did make sure to remind the media that sending the 19-year-old Poitras back down to the junior hockey level was still an option.
“I think his play, he’s earned it,” the Bruins bench boss said. “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.”
In the eyes of Matt Poitras, he still hasn’t completely proven he can be a full-time NHLer, and he likely will never stop trying to prove that he is. Just because he will play in his tenth NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight and, therefore, burn the first year of his three-year, $2.6 million ($870,000 cap hit) contract doesn’t mean he will let up or have a different approach.
“I’m still going to try to play with the pressure and play with the mindset that I’m trying to make the team,” Poitras told reporters after practice on Thursday. “I’m trying to still stick around here for the rest of the year. Just because I’m playing in my tenth game doesn’t mean I’m gonna be here for the rest of the year.”
Poitras acknowledged that this season will continue to be a learning experience for him. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound playmaking center is still adjusting to the speed and lack of space to create in the NHL.
“Playing each game and feeling more comfortable,” Poitras said. “Getting the idea where I want to make a small play here and there. … Maybe I do have a little more time and space. A little more poise, then I kind of play my game and create offense which I do best.”