June 19, 2024

Why Bruins could consider loaning Matt Poitras to Team Canada

Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said Hockey Canada, that country’s governing body for national teams, has approached Don Sweeney about Boston potentially loaning Matt Poitras to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships.

At 19-years-old Poitras is still eligible to play in the annual tournament which begins on Dec. 26 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The event runs until Jan. 5. Depending on when he departed and how long Canada lasted, he could miss up to nine Bruins games.

“Having talked to Donnie, I think Hockey Canada has reached out,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “But we’re not making a decision on that right now.”

When they do decide, there are reasons to say yes and reasons to say no.

The obvious reason to say no is that the Bruins are thin up front. With Pavel Zacha injured and Milan Lucic out, the Bruins don’t have the luxury of spare forwards. They’re already going to play Jesper Boqvist and Patrick Brown more minutes than they’d like. Poitras, when he’s played well is one of their top four centers.

The World Juniors requires flying back and forth to Sweden, which isn’t a short flight. On top of that, they’re playing a lot of games in a short period of time. If the Bruins are trying to build rest and recovery into Poitras’ routine now, travel and an intense schedule for Team Canada seems counterproductive to those goals.

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The reasons to say yes are a little less tangible, but they’re still compelling.

Poitras has hit a bit of a rut at this point in the season. Montgomery’s leash has been shorter with him and he’s sat him for long stretches late in games. He’ll sit out his second game in eight days on Friday vs. the Islanders.

Playing in the World Juniors would do a couple of things. It would allow him to play against guys his own age. Unlike in Boston where his chances to play in key spots have grown scarcer, he’d likely be thrust into big situations for team Canada.

If he had success there and rediscovered his rhythm and swagger at both ends of the ice, it could give his confidence a jolt. If the Bruins said yes, they’d be hoping he’d come back a better player. Since they can’t send Poitras to Providence in the AHL because of his age, this would be an opportunity to send him down to work on things for a couple of weeks.

Whether the answer is yes or no, it’ll have to come soon.

The rest of the Canadian roster is set. They’ve left a spot for Poitras or Sabres’ rookie Zach Benson should either become available, but they’ll leave for Sweden late next week.

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