Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Oct 7, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defenseman Mason Lohrei (6) takes a shot during the NCAA men's hockey game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Hockey Wisconsin Vs Ohio State

Ohio State University’s bid for their third-ever Frozen Four appearance and first since 2018 came up short over the weekend with their quarterfinals loss to Quinnipiac.

But the Buckeyes’ loss could very well prove to be the Bruins’ gain, as it draws Ohio State defenseman and Bruins prospect Mason Lohrei that much closer to his decision time in regards to his hockey playing career.

  • Ohio State’s do-it-all presence on the backend, the 6-foot-4 Lohrei put up four goals and 32 points in 40 games for the Buckeyes this past season, with his 32 points ranking tops among all OSU defensemen and third among all Buckeyes.

    Lohrei’s 32 points also ranked as the 15th-most among all Big 10 skaters, and only Michigan’s Luke Hughes and Minnesota’s Jackson LaCombe were most productive on the blue line.

    Overall, Lohrei, who was taken with the No. 58 overall pick in 2020, has put up eight goals and 61 points in 71 games with Ohio State since the start of the 2021-22 season.

    Prior to his jump to the NCAA ranks, the 22-year-old Lohrei played with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, and 59 points in 48 games during his final season with the club.

  • Feb 18, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defenseman Mason Lohrei (6) moves the puck around Michigan Wolverines forward Mark Estapa (94) during the Faceoff on the Lake outdoor NCAA men‚Äôs hockey game at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

    Feb 18, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defenseman Mason Lohrei (6) moves the puck around Michigan Wolverines forward Mark Estapa (94) during the Faceoff on the Lake outdoor NCAA men’s hockey game at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Adam Cairns/The Columbus Dispatch)

  • And for Lohrei, the choice is pretty straightforward: He can either stay at OSU for another year and try to lead the program to a Frozen Four or he can make his jump to the pro ranks. There’s an element of finality to the latter, obviously, as his jump to the pros would formally end his NCAA career.

    There’s also a few different paths for Lohrei to go in regards to a potential jump to the pros.

    Should Lohrei join the P-Bruins on an amateur tryout agreement, he would be free to join the P-Bruins for the remainder of their regular season and play in playoff games. This has typically been the Black and Gold’s preferred method of bringing their college prospects into that fold. And that’s because Lohrei would be ineligible to play in the Calder Cup Playoffs if he were to sign an entry-level deal with the Bruins.

    Two recent examples of this with different endings: In 2017, the Bruins brought Charlie McAvoy into the fold with the P-Bruins on an amateur tryout agreement. But injuries on defense ultimately forced the Bruins to sign McAvoy to his entry-level contract and throw him into the fire of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and burn a year off his three-year, entry-level contract as a result. And last year, the Bruins had 2019 first-round pick Johnny Beecher join Providence on an amateur tryout agreement for the remainder of the regular season and all of Providence’s playoff run. Beecher signed his entry-level deal with the Bruins about a month later.

  • Again, the Bruins’ preference would be the ATO-to-Providence route.

    It simply maximizes Lohrei’s immediate development time with the AHL squad, and serves as a ‘warm-up’ of sorts. But Lohrei’s camp could also pitch that Lohrei will forego the remainder of his college career and join the Bruins if they gave him a regular-season game and thus burned the first year of his entry-level deal (and got him closer to a potential NHL payday). Some teams with highly-touted NCAA prospects have done this in the past, as it’s a way to get them avoided going the dreaded summertime free agent route.

    The Bruins are also loaded at left defense, even with Derek Forbort currently on the shelf, so there might not be a gigantic rush for them to Lohrei into NHL action. The other side of that coin, of course, is that the Bruins have already locked up the Atlantic Division and have time to fiddle with their roster if they want.

  • Oct 7, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defenseman Mason Lohrei (6) brings the puck up ice during the NCAA men's hockey game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Schottenstein Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch

    Oct 7, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defenseman Mason Lohrei (6) brings the puck up ice during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Schottenstein Center. (Adam Cairns/The Columbus Dispatch.)

  • Lohrei is considered to be the Black and Gold’s top defensive prospect, and drew rave reviews from the organization’s development crew last summer.

    “With his frame, he’s filling out,” Bruins director of player development Jamie Langenbrunner said of Lohrei at last year’s development camp. “He’s going from a boy to a man. He carries himself just a little bit differently now. I think watching him during the season — and it’s unfortunate for you guys that you weren’t able to see him [this week] — it’s just his poise with the puck, and his ability to create and make plays. At 6-foot-5, to move like he does is pretty impressive.”

    “You notice [Lohrei] right away with his size and his length,” Bruins player development coordinator Adam McQuaid said back then. “I mean, he has so much poise with the puck and can create things offensively.”

    Now comes finding out if he’ll be creating in Boston, Providence, or Columbus.

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