COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: Frank Vatrano
Countdown to camp: Frank Vatrano
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2017-18 Bruins. Today: Frank Vatrano.
There have been flashes of brilliance in the young career of 23-year-old Frank Vatrano and the talent is most certainly there. Still, it hasn’t all come together for Vatrano yet in the NHL as injuries and inconsistency have conspired to keep him from potentially turning into the top-six forward he has the potential to be. He’s entering an important season that will probably cement, for better or for worse, whatever expectations he’ll carry for the rest of his career.
What Happened Last Year
Vatrano suffered a foot injury right before camp and ended up missing the first half of the season while trying to play catch-up once he got back on the ice. Vatrano finished with 10 goals and 18 points in 44 games and had good and bad moments once he returned to the lineup. There’s no doubt Vatrano provides a scoring threat with his NHL shot and release. He can find ways to get his shot off, but he also needs to find a way to get more than the career 18 goals he has in 83 NHL games. Vatrano kicked in a goal in the playoff series vs. the Senators but managed just seven shots on net in a pretty quiet six postseason games in his first Stanley Cup playoff experience.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
While Vatrano has the impressive shot and release, pretty good skating ability and enough size to get into the danger areas, he doesn’t always do enough to help himself offensively. Vatrano can stay too far to the outside when in the offensive zone and therefore go long periods where he isn’t noticed in games. Clearly, he’s got the explosive scoring ability, but the free-and-easy one-timers and clean scoring chances don’t always present themselves in the NHL. So, Vatrano needs to find ways to generate goals and scoring chances even when those seams don’t materialize in the offensive zone. He needs to produce more if he wants to become an established top-six winger. Staying healthy for an entire season might be exactly what’s needed for him to get there. Vatrano will certainly get that chance this season, but he’s in danger of being bypassed by other B’s prospects if he goes through another boom-and-bust campaign.
In Their Own Words
“I think for me, obviously I’ve got to be a more all-around defensive player and some little areas like that, having a better stick and stuff, being more consistent on the forecheck and being stronger on pucks. The biggest thing is, obviously being in great shape coming back next year and, for me, I think becoming a better skater and whatnot will really help me, too.” –Frank Vatrano, on what he needs to improve upon.
With the Bruins badly in need of some players to step up and claim top-six jobs on the wing, Vatrano has the right level of talent and experience to really blow up this season. Clearly, he’ll need to go to the danger areas much more often than he has in the past two seasons and Vatrano will need to play a more concentrated two-way game than he has in the past, but the bottom line with Vatrano is about putting the puck in the net. If he does that with enough frequency and skill then everything else is going to take care of itself for the 23-year-old Springfield native. It’s up to Vatrano to step and really seize the opportunity because the chances are there for him right now, and he’s got the natural skill to score plenty of goals in the NHL. The time is now for Vatrano if he’s going to become a Massachusetts-born mainstay on the Bruins.