Bruins

Frederic showing good gains in prospect department for B's

Frederic showing good gains in prospect department for B's

As a prospect for the Bruins and a former first round pick, Trent Frederic was never going to wow you with dazzling puck skills, mesmerize with silky hands or blow you away with his skating game. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound St. Louis native is the opposite of a “combine player” that blows you away in the stopwatch and measurement categories, but then comes up lacking once it comes down to actual play on the ice. 

Instead the strong, big-framed center showed up on scouts’ radars when it came time to compete, win battles with determination and physical strength and do the things that help build a winning hockey team. It was perhaps Frederic’s lack of eye-popping explosiveness that caused a few moments of hesitation when he was selected by Boston in the last few picks of the first round in the 2016 Draft, and a hand injury that hampered his offensive game certainly didn’t help sell him as the selection during his draft year. 

At times in his draft year Frederic looked like a third line center with modest offensive skills, but it was a different story this summer after he healed up and excelled in the world of college hockey. Frederic responded with an excellent freshman season where he posted 15 goals and 33 points in 30 games for the University of Wisconsin as a true, teen-aged freshman at the NCAA level. The skill level popped a little bit more in game action for Wisconsin than it did playing third and fourth line roles in the US National Team Development Program. 

That was something Frederic found pretty satisfying after putting the work in and making sure he played, and produced, like the NHL first round pick that he is. 

“This year I got put in some good positions to score a little bit more. I got a little more power play, and I was put in a position to maybe develop a little more confidence than in the past,” said Frederic. “Tony Granato, Don Granato and Mark Osiecki taught me a lot about my offensive game, and it was pretty fun to see it all work out. 

“In the past I might have thrown it way or just put it down deep, but now I hold onto it a little bit longer and extend plays. I’m doing skating stuff, still working on my hands and I watch a lot of video showing where I need to go to get into scoring position. My game is changing a little bit, but my player to watch for the last few years has been David Backes. I like to play physical like him and there’s some similarities there.”

He now looks a lot more like the Backes-type player he models his game after on the ice. Heavy and strong on the puck, Frederic was one of the most physically impressive prospects at Bruins development camp after clearly doing some W-O-R-K in the weight room while also filling out naturally.

“He’s filled out, I’ll say. He’s gotten a stronger upper body. He’s obviously a big kid to start with. His dad is a big man also. So, that was to be expected that he would fill out. He was a young kid a year ago, and he’s continuing to grow and develop and taking good strides,” said Bruins Player Development Coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner. “He plays top line at Wisconsin. I think playing for the [US] development program, sometimes depending on what group you’re in, you get slotted into certain areas a little bit. Because of some of the players they had in his age group, he maybe played a little bit down the lineup which can be what it is, I guess. 

“But at Wisconsin, he’s been playing in the top-6. As a freshman on a pretty decent Wisconsin team, he was one of the driving guys in that top-6. Obviously, time will tell as he turns to pro hockey in years down what he’ll be. But, there’s more skill to his game than I think people thought coming out of the draft.”

The size and strength advantage he gladly showed against his peers is exactly the kind of thing that will serve him well in the pro ranks, and it caught the eye of B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy as a college player that might be ready for the pro game more quickly than originally anticipated. 

“That’s what you want to see out of these camps…the guys from year to year come in and mature physically as much as they can in one year,” said Cassidy. “There are some guys I think that both sides of it…a guy like [Trent] Frederic, who now everyone’s talking about, is close to being…I know he’s got a lot of school left. 

“[But] how he’s grown and how thick he looks on the ice. You’re watching him a little closer, obviously a lot of talk within that. It looked like there are some really good players.”

Time will tell on Frederic, of course, and what kind of player he settles into at the pro level. There will always be some that will pine for more dynamic, skilled players produced with their first round picks like Alex Debrincat, who dropped to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round in 2016 after being bypassed by the Bruins scouting staff. 

Debrincat went on to lead all of junior hockey in scoring (65 goals and 127 points in 63 games) with the Erie Otters this past season, and is the exact opposite of Frederic as a player in that he might explode at the NHL level as a small, skilled player in the Johnny Gaudreau mold. Then again he might also flame out with a lack of size, strength or toughness that all those small-ish players need in great amounts to survive at the NHL level, and Frederic appears to have the kind of solid, no-frills attributes that will make him a solid, dependable NHL forward whether it’s as a top-6 player or a solid, physical third line-type that every team needs.

The good news for the Bruins is that Frederic took a major step forward in all categories after they selected him 29th overall little more than a year ago. It looks like he’s developing into exactly the kind of big, strong and productive leader-type that should look awfully good donning the Black and Gold in the future. 

Tuukka Rask back with Bruins after 'making things right' with family

rask.jpg
File Photo

Tuukka Rask back with Bruins after 'making things right' with family

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask didn’t get into details about his leave of absence over the weekend other than to say it involved “making things right” in his family life, but says he's ready to get going in his role as goalie for the Boston Bruins.

Rask participated in a full practice with the B’s -- who sent rookie Daniel Vladar back to Providence -- ahead of their West Coast road swing, and said he’s excited to jump back into action.

Rask gave quick “yes” answers when asked if his family was okay, and if he believed the personal matter was resolved at this point. That’s all good news for both the player, Rask, and the team, and the goaltender was appreciative of the time the B’s allowed him over a three-day period to address his off-the-ice life.

“First and foremost I want to thank all the people that sent me messages, that contacted me and that supported me," he said. "Second I’d like to thank the Boston Bruins for giving me some time off to be with my family. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this family with the Boston Bruins. We talk about it a lot that it’s a family and we take care of each other when times are tough.

“That being said, I have a job and my job is to be a hockey goalie for the Boston Bruins. I also have another job title and that’s a family man. This was a time that deep inside my heart I felt like I needed to take this time with my family and make things right so I could be back here and focus on my job. That took three days. I’m back here. I’m back to work and I’m ready to battle with these guys. At the end of the day I realized that the hockey career is a very short career, and your life afterward is a lot longer after that. I got the privacy and time I needed, and now I’m ready to move on.”

The Bruins goalie was confident that the issues were resolved to the point where they wouldn't be a potential distraction again. Rask also said he wouldn’t use the personal matter as an excuse for his performance this season, but he has absolutely looked distracted to this point in the season with 3.05 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage while losing playing time to the red-hot Jaroslav Halak.

“It doesn’t matter. It hasn’t affected my job,” said Rask, who said he never considered stepping away from the Bruins permanently or needing a change of scenery. “I’m not going to make excuses that I played good games or bad games because of my personal life. This was just a time where I needed to take some time for my family’s future and I’m glad that I did.”

Now Rask and the Bruins will move after things came to a head last weekend, and Halak will start on Wednesday night against a high-powered Colorado Avalanche group that boasts a super top line of its own. Bruce Cassidy indicated that Rask will get in there at some point on the road trip, but it won’t be at the sacrifice of playing Halak while he remains in the brick-wall mode that he’s been in for pretty much the entire season so far.

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Bruins trade rumors, contract talk and more in this week's Hagg Bag

Bruins trade rumors, contract talk and more in this week's Hagg Bag

The Bruins showed the best and worst of themselves over a four day period as they lost to Vancouver while giving up eight goals, and then swept the Maple Leafs and Golden Knights in a couple of back-to-back weekend games with Tuukka Rask on a leave of absence. Just another day in the life of the Black and Gold, so with that in mind let’s crack open the Hagg Bag mailbag. As always these are real tweets from real fans sent to my twitter account using the #HaggBag mailbag, real messages sent to NBCS Facebook fan page and emails sent to my JHaggerty@nbcuni.com email account. Now on to the bag:

Haggs,

No one expected the Bruins to get as far as they did last year. They squeaked past Toronto and were no match for Tampa. The playoffs showed they pretty much sank and swam by the production of the first line. Tampa stayed the same and Toronto upgraded big time and with the start of the season it’s pretty much the same thing thing with points coming from first line. I feel if they don’t make a move to help with the scoring they might not even make the playoffs, let alone go far in them no matter who is in net. If they don’t make a move and start to drop do you see them unloading any of the veterans? 
Thanks,

Chris

JH: Your analysis is pretty spot on, Chris. The Bruins biggest addition in the offseason was most definitely Jaroslav Halak as we’re seeing right now with him second in the NHL in goals against average and save percentage more than a month into the season. But they were too top heavy in the postseason last year and they didn’t make any significant outside improvements to change that while relying on kids like Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork to step up and fill the void. Instead they’ve been filling it with Joakim Nordstrom on the second line, which will do for right now but isn’t going to be a permanent top-6 solution on David Krejci’s line.

The good news is that it looks like Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson may be ready to handle the third line center duties. At least it looks good after a couple of games, and it’s brought the best out of both Bjork and Heinen too. But that leaves the Bruins one top-6 forward short of a team that could do some damage in the playoffs, and leaves them with a need to make a deal at some point soon. It remains to be seen how they’re going to accomplish that, but they were in a similar spot last season and landed Rick Nash at the trade deadline. They were good enough to get 112 points, good enough to advance a round in the playoffs and would have been a deeper forward group if Nash had lived up to expectations. I think this is a playoff team as currently constituted right now mostly because that top line will allow them to beat most of the mediocre-to-bad teams out there. But they’ll need another established goal-scorer, and preferably somebody with some size and nasty to their game, if they’re going to be a real threat this season. They’re not there yet and Don Sweeney has some work to do.

All that being said, I don’t see the Bruins becoming sellers this season. No way they do that with the current talent level on the team, and no way they should based on where they are in the Atlantic Division pecking order. We’re talking about a team that’s 10-5-2 in their first 17 games and has the assets to make a deal to improve the team. All things considered, they’re not in a bad spot at all.   

Hey Haggs, 

Just wondering what you think about Charlie McAvoy seemingly always being hurt.  I love him as a player and think he has a great future ahead of him, but could this possibly affect how much he’ll make on his next contract.  Hopefully the Bruins can get him at a reasonable number this summer.  He’s a great player, but he’s not worth the 7-7.5 million I’ve been hearing so far.  He will be sooner or later, but I just don’t think he’s there yet.  I’m also wondering if Sweeney is regretting not bringing a veteran forward in over the summer to help the second line.  I wanted them to go after Skinner.  What do they do now that they sent Donato back to Providence?  It’s kinda earlier to start trading, but I’m not opposed to that at all.

Nick

JH: It’s too early to put any labels on McAvoy given his talent level and his youthful age. He was going to need a monster season to haul in that kind of a second contract, and it doesn’t appear that it’s going that way at this point. So perhaps a little bit of a silver lining to the McAvoy injuries is that it will cut down on his price tag coming out of his entry level contract, but that’s little reassurance to the Bruins. They want McAvoy on the ice where he can help them, and it looks like he’s headed in that direction now that he’s back on the ice again.

The Bruins are going to be okay for the time being riding the top line and plugging somebody into the David Krejci line. It’s a temporary fix, though, and it clearly paves the way for Sweeney to need to make an in-season deal for a top-6 winger. It is early to start trading, but we’ve also seen plenty of Anaheim and LA Kings execs/scouts at Bruins games over the last few weeks to think it’s completely dead. The Bruins are talking to other teams and know they could use more scoring punch and some more size up front, and perhaps can make a deal to address both of those before the burden becomes too heavy on Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

Hi Joe!

First, all Bruins fans should hope Tuukka will be fine as a person after his requested leave from team. 
Second, hopefully he comes back stronger as the ‘elite’ goalie that he has been......again, on his time.  We forget these guys are under the ‘spotlight’ and have other daily matters to deal with same as fans. Hockey players are the least attention grabbing of all other major sports athletes including college and amateur levels and yet, are the most professional and generous with their time!
Kanpai (cheers) to Tuukka and the Bruins!


Ron Saitama, Japan

JH: Well said, Ron. All you can hope for is that Tuukka Rask comes back stronger, more centered and all-around better after getting some time to deal with his personal affairs. I may take issue with his consistency on the ice and how much he’s being paid based on the performance, but I’ve always liked Rask off the ice. He’s funny, he’s pretty honest about things and he’s an interesting guy that has a lot of interests outside of hockey.

Joe,

Will the Bruins trade for a center or a winger?

--Michael Boldiga (via NBCSN Facebook fan page)

JH: Yes. I think they will. If I had to guess, I think they’ll eventually trade for a winger. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to give up assets for a third line center when they have both JFK and Trent Frederic in the minors as players that will be ready sooner rather than later. You look at Joakim Nordstrom’s spot on the second line as the place where the Bruins badly need to upgrade, and give Krejci another weapon on his line now that it looks like Jake DeBrusk is starting to get going.

I have faith in Heinen and DeBrusk to chip in more and more as the season continues. Not sold on Bjork or JFK. Need more sample size. But at least Backes has been moved. Next step is to buy him out.

--Matias Halluchuck (@mhall3333)

JH: Interesting to see the Bruins scratch Noel Acciari for the last few games, and install Backes on the fourth line where he’s actually been pretty good with Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly. It’s tough to see a player taking up a $6 million cap space on the fourth line, but it would be eased a bit if Backes could chip in some offense to that line and make some things happen by causing some havoc in front of the net. Do I see them buying out Backes and paying a portion of his contract for the next handful of years? No, I don’t see them doing that. But it’s also just simple reality that the number of concussions that Backes has suffered could begin to take their toll as he becomes a bit more of a slow-moving target on the ice at 34 years old. The Bruins made the right call moving him off the center position after trying him out on the third line, and now they need to let him find his game with a little consistency in both his linemates and his role. 

That’s all for the Bag this week. See you next week. 

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