Matthew Poitras is making it pretty hard for the Boston Bruins to send him back to the OHL for the upcoming season.
The 19-year-old center, whom the B's selected in the second round of the 2022 NHL Draft, has been one of the team's best players through the first four preseason games.
Poitras has scored one goal with two assists, while also performing well in the faceoff circle in three appearances. He has a well-rounded offensive game, highlighted by impressive playmaking ability and vision.
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Poitras' skill set reminds Bruins captain Brad Marchand of one of the league's best young players -- Toronto Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner.
“He reminds me a lot of Marner, the way that he plays. He’s smart on both sides of the puck. He's really good with it, the way he moves and can dish it,” Marchand told reporters Tuesday. “Just reminds me of [Marner]. Similar where he’s not timid to get into the dirty areas and compete for pucks. He’s got great vision. He does a great job of cutting to the middle and buying himself some space.
“He’s able to find the quiet areas on the ice where he has an extra second to make a play. Even when he’s under pressure and guys are kind of barreling down, he seems to find holes. He’s got great vision, for sure.
Poitras finished with 79 assists in 63 games for the OHL's Guelph Storm last season, putting him in some impressive company for his age group.
If Poitras ends up having a career anything like Marner, that would be a fantastic development for the Bruins. Marner is one of the league's most productive offensive players and has posted back-to-back seasons of at least 30 goals and 97 points. Marner's vision is elite, and it has helped him tally an average of 59.4 assists over the last five seasons.
The Bruins lost two talented centers in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement over the summer. They also lost gifted offensive players Tyler Bertuzzi (free agency), Taylor Hall (trade) and Dmitry Orlov (free agency) during the offseason. That's a lot of scoring firepower out the door in just a couple months.
It's hard to replace all of these players with veterans. That's the reality of a salary cap world. Some of the reinforcements have to come in the form of young, cheap players. Poitras, who's on an entry-level contract, could be one of those reinforcements.
He's played well enough in camp and the preseason to earn at least a nine-game sample to begin the regular season. After that, the Bruins must decide whether to keep Poitras in the NHL or send him back to junior hockey. Poitras is not eligible for the AHL in 2023-24.
“He’s definitely shown a lot of promise," Marchand said of Poitras. "He’s had a great camp so far, but he’s got to keep it going. It’s gonna be tough on him tonight having a back-to-back with travel. It's not going to be easy, so hopefully we can help him out.
"Those are things that you need to be able to show you can do at the next level is be consistent, even when you've played a game the night before or traveled. He’s a great little player. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Poitras' next opportunity to impress head coach Jim Montgomery and his staff will be Tuesday night when the Bruins host the Washington Capitals at TD Garden for a preseason matchup.