Bruins rookie Matt Poitras will remain on NHL roster for 2023-24 season


“He just belongs.”

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 30: Matthew Poitras #51 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on October 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Matt Poitras isn’t going anywhere up in the NHL ranks. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Matt Poitras is sticking around in Boston.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery announced that the 19-year-old forward is staying up with the NHL roster for the remainder of the 2023-24 season.

“I think his play — he earned it, right? I think we’re comfortable with him,” Montgomery said of Poitras. “There’s still no guarantees here 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. That’s the most important thing, right? He’s still 19, so we’re going to be cautious.”

Halloween was set to be judgment day for Poitras, who exceeded all expectations this fall after breaking camp with the NHL roster.

Boston had the opportunity to play him in nine regular-season games before deciding to either keep him in the NHL full-time (and burn the first year of his entry-level contract) or return him to his junior team in the OHL’s Guelph Storm.

The 2022 second-round pick quickly entrenched himself as a key cog in Boston’s forward corps — scoring three goals and posting five total points over his nine-game trial run.

After opening the new campaign in a bottom-six role, Poitras has been slotted all over the Bruins’ revamped forward corps, skating between David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha during Monday’s OT win over the Panthers.

“I don’t know if there’s actually been developments or strides,” Montgomery said of Poitras’s growth since Boston’s season opener on Oct. 11. “He’s played faster. He’s continued to get better at both ends of the ice. But [what’s], I think, appealing to us is every time where you start to think well, this might be too much — whether it was exhibition season or these nine games, he just always finds a way to be like, ‘He belongs, huh?’ He just belongs.”

Poitras’s playmaking capabilities and willingness to carry the puck into Grade-A ice have led to regular entries on the scoresheet.

But the rookie pivot has earned praise from his coach and teammates for his puck-protection habits, elusiveness and ability to trudge through the added physicality found in the NHL ranks. 

“I think that’s the number one reason why he’s gonna play a 10th game is because of that,” Montgomery said of the grit and will that Poitras has displayed. “We see the hockey IQ, we see the skill, we see the vision.

“But if you don’t complete, don’t have natural second and third effort, especially at a young age, it’s hard to stay in this league and that’s been the quality that has been the best quality as to why we think he’s earned this.”

With Poitras in place, the Bruins now have the ability to slot a forward in Charlie Coyle further down the lineup to anchor their third-line grouping. Such a lineup construction plays to Boston’s strengths up front, giving Boston a hefty bottom-six grouping capable of handing daunting matchups, especially if Trent Frederic is stapled to Coyle’s right.

But for that lineup reshuffle to remain intact, Poitras will need to continue to deliver at a critical juncture on Boston’s forward corps.

So far, the youngster has done little to cast doubt about his ability to thrive in such a spot.

“He’s definitely made the best case possible for himself,” Brad Marchand said after Poitras’s ninth game with Boston on Monday. “He’s a heck of a player. He’s gonna have a very long career. He does all the right things on and off the ice to be a good pro and it’s very impressive to see at his age. And he’s a great kid. He’s a lot of fun to have around. Always happy.

“I mean, how can you not be? Nineteen, you’re in the NHL. But he’s so much fun to watch with how poised he is with the puck and the confidence that he has, at his age and the way you can kind of see the game already — his future is very bright. So we’re very lucky to have him in the organization and he’s definitely made a great case.”