Countdown to Camp: Frank Vatrano
Countdown to camp: Frank Vatrano
From now until the beginning of training camp, CSN Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Frank Vatrano.
While Colin Miller is probably the young player with the most potential for positive impact on this season’s Bruins team, based on talent and the position that he plays on the ice, nobody should underestimate what Frank Vatrano can bring to the table. The former UMass standout had a great first professional season where he put his goal-scoring on display while also impressing with his skating and willingness to mix it up physically. It remains to be seen just how often Vatrano can tap into his goal-scoring prowess, but he will be given every chance to really stand out for a Black and Gold group that lost Loui Eriksson, and missed out on Jimmy Vesey, this summer.
What happened last year
Vatrano made it his mission to get in the best shape of his life last summer after signing with the Bruins and finally started to realize the potential that people have seen in his game for a while. The 22-year-old scored an astounding 36 goals and 55 points in 36 games for the P-Bruins and added another eight goals and 11 points in 39 games for Boston with little power play time. He was also routinely switching sides and linemates in the process. Vatrano then went on to get a last-minute invite to Team USA for the World Championships and forged great chemistry with Auston Matthews while proving to be one of the most effective offensive players for the Americans. He went way up on the organizational depth chart last season and went from talented, undrafted free agent signing out of college to one of the young players that the Bruins could build around. Not bad at all for a kid from East Longmeadow, Mass.
Questions to be answered this season
Vatrano showed glimpses of what he can do in the NHL after dominating in the AHL and he’ll have to produce at a more consistent clip this season for the Bruins. The eight goals in 39 games were solid for a rookie, but clearly Vatrano has the talent to score at a higher clip for the Black and Gold as he moves forward in his pro career. He will also probably get more consistent power-play time this season and will most likely be playing in a top-six role where the offensive chances will be plentiful. So, it’s up to Vatrano to capitalize more often on the chances he gets this season and for him to continue working on his skating and physical game to become a complete NHL forward who’s relied upon in all situations. Vatrano has the skating, shooting and passing talent, so now it’s just a matter of going out into the NHL world and realizing it.
In their own words
“Last year was my first full year [of pro hockey], so now coming into this year I know what to expect. I kind of know what it takes to play at the next level and how to be a complete player. Going into summer that was kind of my mentality: to become a complete player. That’s something I’ve been working at all summer.
“I’m obviously excited for the opportunity [for a top-six role], but a lot of that is up to the coaches and management. I’ve just got to work hard and prove to them I can play in that kind of role, but at the end of the day, I’m just going to play my hardest and be the most complete player I can be.” –Vatrano, on his role for this season with the Bruins.
After scoring 44 goals in his first professional season split between the AHL and NHL, everybody is familiar with Frank Vatrano now. He’s gone from an undrafted free agent to a player to watch in Black and Gold and is a key internal candidate to step up and replace the departed Loui Eriksson on the wing in a top-six role. Power-play time and a cushy spot next to David Krejci, for instance, should afford the youngster everything he needs to score 20-30 goals this season at the very least. Vatrano is still young at 22, and a bit inexperienced after playing just one NCAA season before signing with the Bruins, but the Massachusetts native clearly has the goods provided his work ethic stays where it is right now. It should be an exciting proposition for hometown Bruins fans to watch how good a favorite son can become for the Black and Gold this season because he should receive every chance to succeed.