The Globe will take a closer look at the Bruins players who will likely be exposed in the July 21 NHL expansion draft in a three-part series. Part 2: Forward Trent Frederic and defenseman Jeremy Lauzon.
Would the Bruins let Frederic walk in the expansion draft after recently handing him a contract extension?
It’s possible. Now that he has signed a budget-friendly second contract — two years at $1.05 million annually — Frederic might be even more attractive to the Kraken, should the Bruins choose to leave him unprotected. If Seattle took Frederic, Boston would hold on to its crop of young, expansion draft-eligible defensemen, such as Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril.
Frederic, 23, is on track to becoming a quality bottom-six piece in the NHL. A natural center who can play left wing, he has good size (6 feet 2 inches, 203 pounds) and an agitator’s mind-set, though questions persist about how much offense he will provide.
It seems more likely the Bruins will work with that, rather than let him walk. But Frederic knows a spot is not guaranteed.
“Obviously, I have to come in next year and prove my worth, just getting in the lineup and then just like any year, lines get shuffled and there’s something to be said for Game 1 or Game 2, or Game 52 could be completely different,” he said. “So, I guess we’ll just have to see.”
How he got here: The seeds of Frederic’s time as a Bruin were planted when the Bruins traded Milan Lucic for goalie Martin Jones, defenseman Colin Miller, and the 13th overall pick in 2015 (Jakub Zboril). Jones, whose Bruins tenure lasted four days, was flipped to San Jose for Sean Kuraly and the 29th overall pick in 2016. The Bruins chose Frederic, who was entering his freshman year at Wisconsin after two years with the US National Team Development Program.
Frederic scored 65 points in 66 games in two college seasons. As a sophomore, he had a strong World Junior Championship (five goals in seven games), turned pro, and started hot in Providence (5-3—8 in 11 games). In two AHL seasons, Frederic made a name for himself as an enforcer (eight fights in 2019-20, second-most in the league), but his production stagnated. In 59 NHL games over the last three years (42 this past season), he posted a 4-1—5 line. He has yet to appear in the playoffs, having contracted COVID-19 in the summer of 2020 and a non-related illness this past season that hampered his second half.
Scouting report: Frederic is a decent straight-line skater once he gets going, but quickness is not his strength. He needs to add power to his game, to help his puck protection and shooting. He relishes his role as an agitator, and has played relatively clean while stirring the pot. This past season, he took five minor penalties in 42 games (11:15 average TOI), and drew 15. He also finished positive in the faceoff circle (52.9 percent).
Frederic does have some touch on his passes, but overall has shown mere flashes of offensive upside. He may wind up a third-line center who possesses the puck and plays a physical in-zone game, but he would need to make some major strides in the next few seasons to be a 30-40-point player.
“I think I have a lot more to offer,” he recently remarked.
By the numbers: Frederic has four NHL fights, two against Tom Wilson. Three of his four goals, all scored last February and March, have been game-winners.
Chance Seattle takes him: Good. Not every prospect with Frederic’s size is as willing to engage. It stands to reason the Kraken might see him as a player whose development has been hampered by recent illnesses.
What it could mean for the Bruins: More opportunity for left-shooting Anton Blidh, Cameron Hughes, and Jakub Lauko to make the roster. Also, the organization would retain a measure of defensive depth. But it would lose a player who is fast becoming a favorite of old-school Bruins fans.
Like most of the young Bruins potentially left exposed, Lauzon is familiar to new Kraken assistant coach Jay Leach.
During his time as Providence head coach, Leach had Lauzon for three years and 126 games. He relied on Lauzon for steady defending, penalty-killing, and clearing room around the net.
Lauzon has brought some of that to the varsity in his three seasons, but not enough to earn a protection slot when the Bruins submit their list to the league.
How he got here: Lauzon was a decent find as a second-round pick (52nd overall) in 2015. Like many players, he produced offense in the QMJHL, but that hasn’t translated to the pros. Of the three young left-shot defensemen knocking on the varsity door last season, the Bruins saw Lauzon as the safest bet. He opened the season in Zdeno Chara’s old spot, on the top pair with Charlie McAvoy. Lauzon had pockets of strong play, but a pair of broken bones — one in each hand — hampered him late in the season. That didn’t help his puck play, which was already a weakness, and one of the factors that spurred the Bruins to add puck-mover Mike Reilly at the trade deadline. Lauzon struggled with turnovers during seven games in the postseason, including a giveaway that led to the Islanders’ overtime winner in Game 2.
Scouting report: Lauzon’s size (6-2, 205 pounds) and ruggedness could make him a defense-first, third-pair, penalty-kill type. There’s room for that in the league, particularly in tandem with a strong puck-handler. Lauzon plays a heavy game, particularly along the boards in his zone, and erases all but the strongest opposing forwards. He does not have top-level mobility, or much playmaking ability beyond a solid first pass, but he can get up the ice with decent speed. He is an intelligent, diligent penalty killer and a willing shot-blocker. His shot is hard but not particularly accurate. In Providence and Boston, he has played the left and right sides.
By the numbers: Recorded a goal and seven assists in a career-high 41 games this past season ... Played in 16 games in 2018-19 and 19 in 2-19-20. Has three goals and 11 points in 76 NHL games the last three seasons ... His 20 giveaways ranked second among Bruins defensemen to McAvoy (44), who controls the puck a lot more than Lauzon ... The Bruins were outscored,11-5, when Lauzon was on the ice in the postseason. That was the worst rate of the team’s D corps … Missed most of March because of a broken left hand, and Games 2-5 of the Capitals series with a broken right hand … Was suspended two games in February 2020 for an illegal check to the head on Derek Stepan, the first such discipline of his career. Changed number from 79 to 55 entering this season.
Chance Seattle takes him: Fair. Teams need reliable defensemen, and Lauzon has the potential to be one with further development. His contract, which has one year remaining ($850,000), is budget-friendly.
What it could mean for the Bruins: Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jack Ahcan, all left shots, would get longer looks on the third pair. The Bruins would be looking for more of a physical presence on the back end, ideally from someone batting higher in the order (see: the ongoing search for a large, left-shot, two-way defenseman).