Trent Frederic

Bruins prospect Trent Frederic looking forward to playoff hockey

Bruins prospect Trent Frederic looking forward to playoff hockey

The wheels are turning toward NHL hockey returning and the Stanley Cup Playoffs getting underway.

With an NHLPA call set for Thursday night where the players are set to weigh in on the NHL’s plan for a return to play with a 24-team tournament, the players around the league are getting ready to start things up.

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Bruins prospect Trent Frederic confirmed during a virtual town hall with Bruins season ticket holders that dates for a return to practice, training camp and perhaps more were getting tossed around on a Zoom call between Bruins players on Wednesday.

“We had a Zoom call yesterday with the group and there were some dates thrown. It sounds like there is going to be some hockey,” said Frederic, who said he’s been able to skate outside of St. Louis County in recent weeks. “I don’t know much. I’m more of a listener when it comes to what is going on with the NHLPA and stuff. But it sounds like there is going to be some playoff hockey for sure.”

Frederic is one of a number of young players — including 21-year-old center prospect Jack Studnicka — who are expected to join the Bruins when they begin working out, and could fill some kind of Black Aces reserve role if the NHL expands rosters given the circumstances. 

The NHLPA would be voting on a 24-team playoff that would set seeds 5-12 in each conference playing each other in a bracketed play-in five-game playoff series, and the top four seeds in each conference would play in a round-robin tournament with final seeding on the line, per a hockey source.

The plan would give new potential playoff life to teams like the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers that might have otherwise thought their season was over when the regular season went on pause.

Based on the 12 Eastern Conference teams being ranked by points percentage, the top seed could play the winner of a Maple Leafs/Blue Jackets play-in series, and right now the Bruins would be No. 1 seed.

The NHL is then expected to go with a conventional best-of-seven series for each round once they have pared down to the normal 16 teams for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here’s how the Eastern Conference seeding would look:

1. Boston Bruins 7. New York Islanders
2. Tampa Bay Lightning 8. Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Washington Capitals 9. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Philadelphia Flyers 10. Florida Panthers
5. Pittsburgh Penguins 11. New York Rangers
6. Carolina Hurricanes 12. Montreal Canadiens

The expectation is still that NHL games of any kind wouldn’t be played until sometime in July at the earliest given the weeks required for all NHL players to get back into skating shape.

Frederic mentioned that he’s already begun skating in the St. Louis area where he’s living with his parents, and the expectation is that NHL players could begin skating in small groups of 3-4 players within the next few weeks.

Obviously, there are still plenty of hurdles to get over including ample, rapid testing and a decision on cities where the games will be played over the next few weeks, but NHL and NHLPA agreement this week on a playoff format would be a massive step in the right direction toward hockey coming back in the next few months.

Bruins expected to get AHL reinforcements should NHL season resume

Bruins expected to get AHL reinforcements should NHL season resume

Things will be different for the NHL when the league does resume the 2019-20 season, and that extends to teams' rosters as well.

There will be no continuation of the AHL season if the NHL players get going again over the next couple of months, but there is expected to be an expanded NHL roster that would include extra players from the American League.

They will essentially serve as the “Black Aces” like during the NHL postseason while practicing with the team and potentially getting inserted into the lineup if/when injuries do strike.

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Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach pointed toward young forwards like Jack Studnicka and Trent Frederic as players who would be in the mix for an expanded roster role in Boston, and it’s just as likely that guys like Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen would be included in that NHL-ready group as well.

For his part, the 21-year-old Studnicka has been working out and roller-blading in Michigan over the last couple of months and stands ready to contribute if his number is called.

Certainly, Studnicka could be a big factor as his 23 goals and 49 points in 60 games for the P-Bruins would attest in his first pro season. He’s got the skill to play center or wing if needed and he’s still building strength into his 6-foot frame.

“I’m going to be ready. I feel ready,” said Studnicka, who got his feet wet with two NHL games this season including an NHL debut in the Bell Centre against the Canadiens. “I haven’t heard much on the topic. You see the rumors about what the plan is and I would love for a scenario like that to play out. Hopefully the NHL comes back and I’m able to be a part of it. That’s something I’d definitely be looking forward to.

“Last year I went through the experience of [being a Black Ace] to see the competition live and it was unbelievable. This time around hopefully we come out on the other side. I feel like I’ve had a good season down in Providence and proved that I could help the organization win. Whether they decide if it’s as a Black Ace or playing [games], that’s for them to decide. I’m willing to do whatever they ask when the time comes.”

Clearly the 22-year-old Frederic could help as well with a sturdy 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame to go along with eight goals and 32 points in 59 games and a whopping 148 penalty minutes. Frederic didn’t hesitate to drop the gloves this season while leading the AHL in fighting majors, but it was toughness and physicality up front that would be of big-time use to the Black and Gold.

“I don’t think anybody has a clue because from what I understand, we won’t know the size of the group,” said Leach during a Monday Zoom conference call with reporters, when asked if he could identify which P-Bruins skaters would be with the Boston team if and when NHL play resumes. “This is just my best guess, but I think it’s the guys that we talk about.

“It’s [Jack] Studnicka, it’s [Trent] Frederic. If we’re talking five guys it would be Studnicka, Frederic, Zboril, Vaakanainen and [Steve] Kampfer. I think [Karson] Kuhlman would be in that mix too since he’d been in Boston before. It’s tough to nail down, but that’s who I’d be going with to start. Where does it end? It depends on what the limit is and what they’re going to need. I don’t think anybody can forecast that right now. I can tell you there are plenty of candidates.”

Clearly there will need to be a healthy number of substitute players as nobody knows for sure how many players could end up getting sidelined if a player were to test positive for COVID-19 once play resumes.

And some of Boston’s best and brightest prospects would be a good place to start when fortifying a Bruins roster for what’s expected to be a slew of unknowns over the next few months.

Hagg Bag: Busting out of quarantine to answer your Bruins questions

Hagg Bag: Busting out of quarantine to answer your Bruins questions

It’s been a little more than a week without the NHL since the pause button was hit on the regular season. One thing is clear beyond the coronavirus outbreak that’s dominating the world: We all miss hockey right now. There are no sports at all and our usual escape from the troubles of the real world has been temporarily removed.

But the Hagg Bag still moves on. I hope everybody out there is staying healthy, safe and keeping a good frame of mind as we enter a few weeks of social distancing, work shutdowns and spending time operating out of our homes. 

Be kind. Be mindful of people at high risk and we’re all in this together. As always, these are real questions from real fans using the #HaggBag hashtag on Twitter, real messages to my NBCS Facebook fan page and emails to my email account.

Any idea what's going on with @delawarenorth/@NHLBruins on paying their employees through all this?? Embarrassing and sad if they don't, but haven't heard otherwise...

--Josh Boyle (@jb_SID)

JH: If I had to guess, I would think there is a wait-and-see approach with the emergency federal aid packages that are being passed this week. I also wonder if there is hesitation because covering the TD Garden employees would mean Delaware North would be on the hook for everybody else in a massive company. In either instance, I’m not sure that it should matter. They should have stepped up and given their employees some assurances that they would be taken care of.

It’s reached the point where the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey felt the need to step in. That’s really not a great look at all for an organization in the Bruins that’s supposed to be one of the civic pillars in the Boston community. 

There’s a chance that the way they have acted during this crisis is going to have lasting negative impacts on how the community views them, and that’s a shame. The Bruins Foundation has done some great work over the years, and I think Charlie Jacobs has done a lot of really good things as the ownership presence in Boston over the past decade-plus.

So, it really feels like what’s going on right now is a massive step backward for them in the PR department.

Hey Haggs,

I remember when you used to interact with us answer me... What do the Bruins have against [Trent] Frederic? He leads Providence in assists & no one would run Pasta & Krug & get away with it. Instead they got, in [Mike] Milbury’s opinion, an out-of-shape Ritchie.

--Smoke (@_Civil_Servant)

JH: I love it when somebody throws a shot at me at the beginning of a mailbag question. It’s like that punch to the face at the start of the fight that really starts to get your juices flowing. Trent Frederic is too young to be relied on to be the intimidating policeman for a team with Stanley Cup hopes like the Bruins. At least that’s what the team believes. I think he could have made a big impact if they had brought him up around the trade deadline. I remember Milan Lucic was already a Big, Bad Bruin at that age in Boston.

But they opted instead for Nick Ritchie. I don’t think he’s as badly out of shape as Milbury dinged him for. Bright side is that everybody is going to be as out of shape as he might have been when we start playing hockey again. But I liked what I’ve seen out of him. He’s big and strong, he can handle certainly intimidate when he needs to and he showed some pretty good hands and passing instincts for a big man. Certainly, he’s got better hockey sense than his older brother, Brett, who just didn’t impress in that area in his time in Boston.

Anyway, it was nice to just talk about hockey for a little while there.

If the rumors are true and they do cast John Krasinski and Emily Blunt as Reed Richards and Sue Storm, who do you want to see play the Thing and Human Torch?

--Tyler (@TylerBrewsBeer)

 JH: Great question. I honestly wouldn’t hate if they did some stunt casting and went with Michael Chiklis as the Thing after he did the Fox movies. He actually really nailed Ben Grimm’s character, IMHO. As for a younger actor to play him, how about Channing Tatum? I think Ryan Gosling would be a great Johnny Storm. But they need to do Krasinski and Blunt as Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. That isn’t up for discussion anymore. Did you know that Krasinski was one of the final candidates for Captain America before it went to Chris Evans and Blunt turned down the role of the Black Widow? True story.

Hopefully the season doesn’t get cancelled Haggs but it’s sure looking that way

--Brendan Hanrahan (via NBCS Facebook fan page)

JH: I’m not there yet, man. We’ll see. I think the NHL could start a full play two-month playoff that even started mid-May if they needed to do that. Sure, it might push next year’s regular season back by a few weeks and it certainly would wreak havoc with both the draft and free agency that’s supposed to start on July 1, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Take comfort in this: Nobody has more experience with working around work stoppages than the NHL does, based on labor discord and working regular seasons around the Olympics pretty regularly the past 20 years. They're pros at this.

Just an FYI. I would not be interested in signing Krug for $7m-8m a year. Do you think that the B’s could better spend that money?

--Jeffrey Gold

JH: On what? Even with Charlie McAvoy stepping up his game and Matt Grzelcyk continually playing well each time Krug has missed time with injuries, there is nobody on that roster that’s going to replace his 10 goals and 50 points when he’s gone. 

Krug’s shot is a major weapon that keeps PKs honest on the Bruins power play. McAvoy has a hard time hitting the net with his shot and Grzelcyk doesn’t have a shot that’s nearly as dangerous, even though he has clearly worked on it the past couple of seasons. Not to mention, Krug plays with the kind of swagger, attitude and toughness that sets the tone for everybody else. He’s one of the few guys on the Bruins roster that legitimately plays with a chip on his shoulder and they could use more of that, not less.

The one issue in all of this is that the salary cap is going to take a big hit if they cancel regular-season games and thereby drop revenues across the NHL. So, none of this is a certainty like it might have been a few months ago. We’ll have to wait and see, but $7 million per season for Krug isn’t an outlandish ask by him at all.  

Hi Joe!

You certainly know I’ve been one to speak out about the B’s needing a little more beef in the lineup! Will go one step further and say Sweeney needs to give brother Brett another shot... a line up with “Bros Ritchie” would be a price of a ticket while resting a couple guys. They can create space for the others....  getting a little “Big Bad Bruins” attitude to start the Black & Gold journey to 16W!!

JH: Give the Ritchie Brothers a few spins around the Garden ice. Why don’t we find a center with the first name Rich to drop between them and we can have a real, live Ritchie Brothers Line that could play just like the Hanson Brothers from "Slapshot." Or maybe Brad Richardson would be good enough? Either way, it puts a smile on my face thinking about it as the Stanley Cup playoffs seem very, very far away right now. Stay healthy out there everybody and take care of each other.