Second in a series on key younger Bruins players heading into the 2022-23 season. Read Part 1 here.
Trent Frederic is from St. Louis, where Jim Montgomery worked the last two seasons.
Perhaps they can get to know each other by sharing opinions on toasted ravioli, the Cardinals, and Imo’s Pizza. Maybe Montgomery has heard the jingle for Frederic Roofing that plays in the St. Louis area (“For a hole in your roof, or a whole new roof…”).
Connecting with young players is a stated strength of Montgomery, the Bruins’ new coach, and Frederic is a forward looking for a fresh start.
Frederic, 24, could become a full-time NHLer this fall after playing in a career-high 60 games last year (8-10–18, plus 0-0–0 in four playoff games). He became a semi-regular for Bruce Cassidy, who played him as a bottom-six center and left wing but also benched him for inopportune penalties and defensive mistakes.
After taking an early penalty in Game 2 of the first-round series against Carolina, Frederic sat the next three games before returning. He was involved in a critical sequence in Game 7: With the Bruins trailing, 2-1, he hit the post on a chance for the tying goal, then he and his linemates surrendered Max Domi’s game-winner at the other end.
When team president Cam Neely noted in May that Cassidy’s short leash with young players left them “worried they’re not going to play the next game while that game’s still going on,” Frederic was likely on his mind.
Cassidy, in comments made before his June dismissal, said Frederic too often deferred to his older linemates offensively and struggled with discipline issues.
“What I’d like to do more is just have impactful games,” said Frederic, who played most of the year as the No. 3 left wing with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith. “There were a lot of games, even during this playoff, that I felt like I didn’t have an impact on the game. It’s not all about scoring. Some of my best games I didn’t have a goal or an assist, but that’s what I want to do more.”
Based on his history, Montgomery could be the kind of coach who accelerates Frederic’s growth.
When he left the University of Denver in 2018 to coach the Stars, Montgomery became the fifth coach to make the NCAA-to-NHL leap. Frederic, who spent two years at Wisconsin before turning pro, hasn’t been able to translate his offense from college (65 points in 66 games) to the NHL (23 points in 119 games).
“I’d like to score more goals from shots,” he said, noting that his skating also needs work. “I felt like I got off a lot of shots that didn’t go in that maybe have in the past. I could work on my deception . . . and shooting as I’m skating.”
The expectations of being a first-round pick (29th overall in 2016) are attached to Frederic’s name, but realistically, teams find depth players late in the first round far more often than David Pastrnaks. Still, the Bruins believe Frederic can be an abrasive middle-six winger with a soft touch on the puck. Montgomery, like Cassidy, may need to remind him to move his feet. Frederic knows incoming Bruins assistant John Gruden, who helped coach him at the US National Team Development Program. Frederic, 6 feet 2 inches and 209 pounds, has a set of tools that could be familiar to his new head coach.
In Dallas, Montgomery quickly grew to trust Jason Dickinson, who has a similar profile to Frederic: 6-2, 201 pounds, 29th overall draft pick (2013). He was 23 and a fourth-year pro when Montgomery arrived in 2018. Playing mostly fourth-line center, he put up career highs in assists (16) and points (22), and produced 3-2–5 in 13 games in the Stars’ surprising run to Game 7 of the second round.
For Dickinson, who bounced between the AHL and NHL under Lindy Ruff and Ken Hitchcock, it was a refreshing change.
“I like how straight up he is,” Dickinson told Blackout Dallas in 2018. “He doesn’t beat around the bush. He tells you what’s what and exactly what he expects. It’s nice to have that kind of clear path of, ‘This is what is expected of me and if I do this I should be all right.’ His game plan really does breed success because if you’re on that right side of the puck and if you’re doing all of the little things that he preaches, you’re going to get chances. It’s worked out well for me.”