It’s time to count Trent Frederic among the Boston Bruins players that are flourishing with the new coaching staff in place.
The 24-year-old forward has always seemed to be stuck between a physical fourth line player and a former first round pick that perhaps had the talent to be a top-6 forward when at the height of his game. Frederic had a career-high eight goals and 18 points last season for the Bruins while playing largely in a bottom-6 role, but there were long stretches where his confidence was low, his play was inconsistent and the young forward even seemed to battle with being on the right side of his on-ice discipline when it came to the penalty box.
All that seems to have changed this season, though, after an admittedly rough training camp for Frederic where he didn’t even play on opening night in Washington. Frederic has six goals and 11 points in 23 games while settling into a third line right wing role alongside Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle, who have quietly teamed to become perhaps the best third line in the entire NHL.
Certainly, Hall’s presence on that line is a sign of the depth that the Boston Bruins have to offer this season, but Frederic gives them an unknown quantity when it comes to just how high his potential ceiling can go. The latest development has been Frederic showing off a one-timer that most observers didn’t even know he had as he continues to build confidence shooting the puck, playing with it and making things happen offensively.
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“His game has really grown,” said Montgomery, a couple of weeks ago when asked about Frederic. “He might be the most improved player since training camp to where he is now. He’s playing a lot faster with and without the puck, he’s hanging on to more pucks. I think he’s creating more offense and he’s also very responsible in our own end.”
Certainly, the addition of Hall has given Coyle and Frederic a puck possession player that can move it up and down the ice and get those in offensive situation where they can play to their strengths.
“The line I’m on now, I get to carry it up the ice a little more. I get some more zone time and possession time,” said Hall. “Freddy’s fine being in the slot, being an option in front of the net. [Charlie Coyle] is obviously a guy that can rag guys down low. I think there’s a good mix there. I’m enjoying it.”
Certainly, Trent Frederic is enjoying it too with a different kind of confidence than the guy that seemed to be questioning everything at the end of last season. Long stretches of getting benched or scratched had eroded that self-assurance, which is obviously something that every hockey player needs to be effective. And that goes doubly so for a physical, heavy player like Frederic that’s best when playing on the edge and seeing exactly where that is on a nightly basis.
Trent Frederic with the hit on Namestnikov. pic.twitter.com/4wRoKwvVml
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“I think a lot of it is just confidence. I’m starting to just play and not think so much, not thinking about what I might do wrong. I’m just going out and playing, trying to do the best I can,” said Frederic. “I’m not trying to play not to make a mistake, essentially, and Monty’s done a good job with that. Where I’ve made bad plays, he’s done a good job of teaching it and having me realize it in a different sense. I guess a lot of credit goes to him for that.”
The good news is that Frederic can even be better. Right now his shots per game (1.30) rate is down from last season (1.67) when he cranked out 100 shots on net in 60 games, but he does seem to be getting better looks and offensive chances than he did last season when the Bruins focused on funneling pucks at the net.
The lion’s share of the credit goes to Frederic himself for pushing through some of the adversity in the last few seasons when he could never fully get out of the doghouse. He’s there now and it doesn’t look like he’ll be going back anytime soon while Frederic is enjoying his best NHL season along with several other Boston Bruins players this year.