Trent Frederic had heard all of the chatter about the Bruins reaching a bit for him when they selected the physical, athletic center with the 29th overall pick last month in the draft.
Draft night pundits had the Wisconsin-bound Frederic much lower in the rankings and even Bruins scouting director Keith Gretzky admitted that Frederic probably projects to being a third-line center in the NHL a few years down the line.
“[Frederic] is not going to be a top-two line guy, we know that,” said Gretzky on draft night. “But he has some jam. He plays hard with the [amount of] penalty minutes. We were fortunate to get him. We believed he was our next guy and we really liked the projection of him as a staff. Everybody raved about him, his character is outstanding. He’s an athlete.”
So, it’s fair to say it was a conservative pick going for a player more likely to have an NHL career rather than a boom-or-bust risk choice like the small, skilled Alex DeBrincat and it’s equally important to note that the Bruins were looking size, strength and jam with a few of their center choices in this particular draft class.
The B’s selected the 6-foot-2, 203-pound Frederic as an organizational need pick and a safe pick at the end of the first round, but there were also at least two NHL teams that had player pegged to go between 20-30 in the draft.
“If you watch him in the [fitness] testing he’s a really good athlete, and he’s explosive,” said Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo. “He was playing on that US [National Development] team behind [Kieffer] Bellows and [Clayton] Keller, so I think maybe he’s got a little bit more skill than people are giving him credit for.
“He’s got some upside more than a third line player. I know that’s what everybody was saying, but there were a lot of teams that were pretty high on this kid. I think he just went under the radar a little bit playing on that US team behind the top skill players.”
So, Gretzky, Scott Bradley, Don Sweeney and the rest of the B’s talent evaluators weren’t on their own in making the selection, and only the passing of time will tell if he turns into the next David Backes, or the next Chris Kelly.
It appeared early in last week’s Bruins development camp that Frederic was trying to do too much as he struggled at times in skating drills and looked a little nervous during the first session with fellow NHL prospects.
But Frederic settled in after that and showed the athleticism, the toughness and a fairly decent amount of skill over the four on-ice days of development camp prior to getting ready for college. He certainly wasn't bursting with over-the-top offensive skill like Jake DeBrusk or Charlie McAvoy, but Frederic didn't look out of place grinding and battling with fellow top prospects while showing a ready willingness to go to the danger areas on the ice.
The 18-year-old admitted he’s got a little of a chip on his shoulder about the first round reach chatter, and that won’t be a bad thing as he develops at the NCAA level.
“I have the hard work and the dedication, and I think I’ve been a winner my whole life…so I have that’s something I can bring to the Bruins. I think my two-way play is what they like a lot. My overall skating and my offensive game are things that I’m working on a lot,” said Frederic, who had 20 goals and 40 points in 61 games for the USNTDP last season. “I think you use [the draft talk] as motivation, and something that can push you to get going and to prove people wrong I guess you could say.
“I think I’ll do it, and I’ll work my hardest to do it. [The best advice I got] was don’t read anything good and don’t read anything bad about yourself because none of it really matters. I don’t know if anybody gave that to me, or if I gave it to myself. The main point is [to not buy into anything] whether it’s really good or bad.”
That’s exactly the right kind of attitude for the Frederic, who will be under the microscope a little bit now that he’s become a first-round pick in a Bruins organization leaning heavily on their future prospects.