One of the Boston Bruins' top prospects, Mason Lohrei, has begun his pro career.
The Ohio State defenseman has signed an ATO (amateur tryout agreement) with the AHL's Providence Bruins, B's general manager Don Sweeney announced Friday.
Lohrei led the Buckeyes to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Quinnipiac last weekend. The 22-year-old defenseman tallied 32 points (four goals, 28 assists) in 40 games for Ohio State in 2022-23. He is an excellent offensive player with good size (6-foot-4 and 205 pounds) and playmaking ability. Lohrei was a second-round pick (58th overall) of the Bruins in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Presidents' Trophy curse? How Bruins compare to recent winners
The P-Bruins lead the Eastern Conference standings entering Friday and rank among the favorites to win the Calder Cup.
It's possible for Lohrei to join the Bruins in the NHL at some point this season, even during the playoffs. However, the chances of that happening are probably pretty low. The Bruins have seven defensemen on their NHL roster (including Jakub Zboril), and Derek Forbort is not part of that group right now because he's recovering from a lower body injury. The Bruins would likely need to be hit hard by injuries for Lohrei to debut in the 2023 postseason.
Charlie McAvoy signed an ATO with the P-Bruins in 2017 and made his NHL debut during the first round against the Ottawa Senators a few weeks later. However, the Bruins had injuries on the blue line that year, which gave McAvoy an opportunity. The Bruins also weren't a Presidents' Trophy-caliber team in 2017 like they are this season.
The future is very bright for Lohrei. He is easily the franchise's top defenseman prospect. He will eventually get his chance to impress in Boston.