3 Bruins’ Players Who Stood Out at 2023 Prospects Challenge

Training camp begins on Wednesday (Sept. 20) for the Boston Bruins for the 2023-24 season. The process for some of the Black and Gold prospects has already begun with the Buffalo Prospects Challenge. It is an early showcase for some of the prospects to make an impression ahead of camp as there is a chance some of them could very well find themselves at the TD Garden for opening night on Oct. 11.

Prior to the prospects heading out to Buffalo, general manager (GM) Don Sweeney spoke to the roster about looking forward to the weekend and the upcoming season.

“You can’t keep yourself out of the National Hockey League,” Sweeney said. “If you’re good enough to play, you’re going to play, and you should play. That’s the message, ‘Just go kick it down.’ If you’re good enough, make yourself valuable enough. No one cares where you came from, where you grew up as a player. You’re here, and the question is, ‘Are you a player for me now?” (from ‘At Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, Bruins hopefuls look to seize the opportunity,’ Boston Globe, Sept. 17, 2023)

Some of the younger Bruins heard that message and took the opportunity to make an early impression ahead of training camp. Here are some players that stuck out over the weekend in Western New York.

Matthew Poitras

If there is one prospect who really has seen his stock rise over the last season since being drafted 54th overall in the second round of the 2022 Entry Draft, it’s Matthew Poitras. In 63 games for the Guelph Storm last season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the center had 16 goals and 79 assists. In Buffalo, he had an impressive weekend and even impressed coach Ryan Mougeneal.

”I was really impressed not just with his play with the puck. It’s a little bit of a coaching cliché – how good he was away from the puck. He’s got great vision. Completes a lot of plays, has tons of courage. He’s going to be a very good player.”

Ryan Mougenel
Matthew Poitras Boston Bruins
Matthew Poitras, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

All weekend long, Poitras showed his poise and just how high his hockey IQ is. He assisted on a Brett Harrison goal in the first game of the challenge against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 15 when his shot from the point was tipped by Harrison. Throughout the weekend, he played with confidence and calmness and did not try to do too much.

Brett Harrison

One of the more interesting prospects for the Bruins is Brett Harrison. He had a very 2022-23 OHL season with the Oshawa Generals and Windsor Spitfires with a combined 34 goals and 35 assists. Now the question is, how will his game translate to the pros? 

Brett Harrison Windsor Spitfires
Bruins prospect Brett Harrison with the Windsor Spitfires (David Jewell / The Hockey Writers)

He likely going to end up with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, but the 6-foot-2 and 182-pound forward played well in Buffalo. He has a quick release shot and got to the front of the net where he was able to score when he redirected a Poitras pass home. Later in the game, he scored off a pass from defenseman Frederic Brunet with an impressive one-timer. He added a goal in a loss to the New Jersey Devils on Monday.

His hockey IQ is good when it comes to where to go off the puck and most of his shifts in the two games he played were impressive. As he showed in the challenge, he’s not afraid of getting around the net and playing in the dirty areas and his development this season will be worth keeping an eye on.

Luke Toporowski

The Bruins have a handful of forwards who are not afraid to shoot the puck and quite frankly, will shoot it from nearly anywhere on the ice. That is the best way to describe Luke Toporowski. Last season, he made a name for himself in the prospects challenge with a pair of goals and with his grinding play that keeps opponents on their toes. That was the case again this season. He wasted little time scoring as he scored in the first minute against the Penguins and playing with Poitras, you knew he was going to get his opportunities. He was good the entire weekend and created a lot of scoring chances.

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Last season in 47 games with the P-Bruins, Toporowski had 15 goals and 14 assists and should find himself down there again this season. He plays with a lot of energy and is looking to get to the front of the net. He was tough along the walls over the weekend and created a lot of his chances from his work deep in the offensive end.

This was a good tune-up for some of the Bruins prospects ahead of training camp opening. Fabian Lysell did not play along with Poitras in the final game aaginst the New Jersey Devils, but you have to think that he was given a day off with camp around the corner and he will be in the mix for a forward spot in Boston.

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