On a Zoom call with his Bruins teammates Wednesday, Trent Frederic heard some good news.
“There were some dates thrown around,” Frederic said Thursday, during a call with fans arranged by the team. “I don’t know much. I’m more of a listener rather than knowing what’s going on [in the NHL Players Association] but it sounds like there’s going to be some playoff hockey for sure."
The NHL is moving toward a restart in the coming weeks, with the league and the NHLPA hammering out details this week that include training camps and a modified postseason that will award the Stanley Cup by summer’s end.
The league and its players reportedly are considering a 24-team format with a play-in round to settle the last of the traditional 16 playoffs spots. The Bruins were leading the NHL with 100 points at the time of the March 12 pause.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, speaking Wednesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub, said he’d prefer a 16-team field without the play-in. He expects players would need ice time before that.
“It gets ramped up in a hurry, playoff hockey, there’s no holds barred,” he said. “They have been able to do nothing, for the most part. The odd guy might be skating in Sweden or a couple of those European countries that are open. So they do need the time to ramp up, healthwise.”
Frederic, 22, one of the top Bruins prospects, said he is back on the ice in his home state of Missouri, skating last week in a group of eight players, with two goalies. They did two-on-two and three-on-three drills. Before that, he had last skated March 11 with AHL Providence. (The AHL has canceled its season entirely.)
“I’ve been playing roller hockey, but it’s not the same,” Frederic said. “Hands weren’t too bad. Mostly my skating and turning and stuff like that, edges, is what I need to focus on to get back up to speed.”
Frederic, a first-round draft pick (29th overall) out of Wisconsin in 2016, was spotlighted by Providence coach Jay Leach as one of the likely candidates to be called up if the NHL resumes. It would be a chance to rinse the bitter aftertaste of the AHL season, which ended with the P-Bruins on a 12-game winning streak.
“We got beat by the ol’ corona," Frederic said. “It took us down.”
In his second year pro, the center put up 8 goals and 24 assists in 59 games. He said the coaching staff wanted him to focus on keeping his feet moving as he played the puck, and improving his pace and acceleration. When he was in Boston (17 games since his January 2019 debut), he felt he played too passively. He was scoreless in two games this season.
“I think I’ve become a lot better player from my first year to my second year,” he said. “I’m playing my best when I’m playing physical. Having a positive impact on the game doesn’t have to be scoring and making assists.”
Frederic led the AHL in penalty minutes (148) and was second in fights (8). In today’s nearly scrap-free game, those numbers raise an eyebrow. Frederic, 6 feet 2 inches and 203 pounds, expects that part of his game to come with him if he becomes a full-time NHLer.
“I’d probably be doing it,” said Frederic, who rained some heavy blows on Winnipeg’s Brandon Tanev during his Bruins debut. “I enjoy that part of the game.”