When the Boston Bruins made their first round of cuts from the 2022-23 training camp, there were no surprises with the names that were sent either to the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) or in the case of Matthew Poitras, back to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the upcoming season. Thursday, the Bruins announced their next round of cuts ahead of the season opener in six days and this time there was a supposing name that was sent down to the AHL.
Marc McLaughlin was part of the final round of cuts from Boston, which also included Fabian Lysell, Johnny Beecher, and Jack Ahcan, just to name a few other players. It is not surprising that Lysell and Beecher got sent down as it is the right move to allow the youngsters to get top-six minutes and play over 20 minutes a night for P-Bruins coach Ryan Mougenel in all situations. McLaughlin, however, did everything that was asked of him and despite being one of the top forwards in the first five preseason games, he still got sent down.
McLaughlin Should Be in Boston
If there was one player that stood out in the preseason it was McLaughlin. There were times when he was the best player on the ice for the Bruins and as even as recent as Wednesday night’s 5-4 preseason win over the New York Rangers, the Massachusetts native has proved he belongs in the NHL in a bottom-six role. In a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 1, he scored two of the Bruins’ four goals in a 4-0 victory.
After his senior season ended last March at Boston College, he signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the Black and Gold and found himself making an impact right away. In 11 games, he had three goals and became a nice addition to the bottom six, even scoring his first career goal in his first career game against the New Jersey Devils when he was on the third line with Trent Frederic and Charlie Coyle.
After playing well at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo in September, he carried that play over to camp and the preseason and was impressive in all situations. Other than A.J. Greer and Studnicka, McLaughlin was hands down the best bottom-six forward this preseason and should be beginning the season in Boston.
“He had a great camp. We’re really happy with his development. There are certain areas of his game we really want him to focus on down in Providence. Details, physicality & stuff,” said Montgomery. “His offensive production, his tenacity on pucks & ability to score…all of that has shown thru.”
Yes, McLaughlin had a great camp and it’s really hard to justify that he’ll begin the season in Providence instead of Boston.
Bruins Chose to Keep Veterans Over McLaughlin
There is no doubt that Greer deserves to be in Boston, but the next player on the right wing that also deserves to be there is McLaughlin. Instead, first-year coach Jim Montgomery decided to go with veterans Chris Wagner, Tomas Nosek, and Nick Foligno. Comparing McLaughlin’s numbers last season to the other players is sending the wrong message. McLaughlin’s three goals in 2021-22 in 11 games were tied for the same amount that Nosek had in 74 games, one more than Foligno had in 64 games and Wagner played just one game in Boston last season, the final regular season game against the Toronto Maple Leafs when Boston brought a primarily AHL lineup north of the border for a meaningless game No. 82. This preseason, not only McLaughlin find the back of the net, but Nosek has failed to register a shot on the net yet in over 30 minutes of action.
“He’s going to be a big part of our future,” said Montgomery. “We also have great depth, you know? So right now, it’s what we think is best for the Boston Bruins moving forward.”
He certainly is considered a big part of their future, but that future should be this season, beginning next Wednesday night in the season opener against the Washington Capitals. Instead, he’ll be down in Providence watching three veterans that he clearly had a much better camp than possibly all skating for the Black and Gold against Alex Ovechkin.
Oskar Steen was another right wing in camp that McLaughlin was in a battle with for a spot, but the Bruins sent Steen down to Providence earlier this week after he cleared waivers, which was no surprise as he struggled in the preseason. However, keeping Nosek, Wagner, and Foligno over McLaughlin is a strange choice and sends the wrong message, do what is asked of you in camp, be one of the top players in the preseason games, but your reward is being sent down to Providence.
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Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.