fb-pixel Skip to main content
bruins notebook

Bruins sizing up Trent Frederic’s potential as a net-front presence on power play

Trent Frederic (left) and Patrice Bergeron talked things over when the Bruins opened training camp last week.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

There’s more to the job than sheer size, but height and weight help, and Trent Frederic at 6 feet 3 inches and 215 pounds has the build, mind-set, and tools to make a case for net-front duty on the power play.

He also has new Bruins coach Jim Montgomery willing to give him a few prime-time shifts here in the preseason.

“His hand-eye coordinator is incredible,” noted Montgomery, who noticed Frederic when the latter was a high school standout in St. Louis, where Montgomery had ties since beginning his NHL career there. Montgomery finished his playing career with the UHL Missouri River Otters (1994-95), “I know how gifted an athlete he was — he started at quarterback as a freshman in high school [De Smet Jesuit], at one of the best prep schools in St. Louis. Also as a baseball player, he was gifted.”

Advertisement



Frederic did not factor in the scoring in Tuesday night’s 3-2 overtime win over the Rangers at TD Garden, but Montgomery rolled him out on the first power play with Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle for a total 1:15 on the advantage. The trio never established the zone long enough for Frederic to set up in front.

In the morning workout in Brighton, that trio spent some 20 minutes on power-play drills, with Frederic looking increasingly comfortable around the blue paint, taking feeds from his fellow forwards and tipping shots fired by Hampus Lindholm and Jack Studnicka from the points.

Beyond having the requisite size, successful net-front players typically are agile, adept at making tips and deflections, as well as retrieving rebounds and shots that ricochet off the rear wall. Two of the game’s best were Tim Kerr during his Flyer days and Dave Andreychuk, a former Bruin and Hall of Famer who scored 640 career goals — gobs of those coming in his years as net-front impresario with the Sabres and Maple Leafs.

Advertisement



No telling how long the audition will last, but Frederic is eager for the chance, one that never came during Bruce Cassidy’s tenure as coach. Frederic, in 119 career games, has only 12 goals and 23 points, production far below what the Bruins projected when they made him a first-round pick (No. 29) in the 2016 draft.

“I’m kind of new to it obviously, it’s been a while since I’ve been on a power play,” noted Frederic, mainly third- and fourth-line support thus far in the NHL. “It’ll be interesting to do … try my best, that’s all I can do, right?”

Unlike the NHL of the Kerr-Andreychuk era, forwards manning the top of the paint usually are not subjected to the spine-bending cross-checks that defensemen routinely dealt out without fear of penalty. If bruising blue liners try that in today’s game, it typically brings another penalty, resulting in a two-man advantage.

“Yeah, that’s gone away a little bit, because the D have to be able to get off you now,” said Frederic. “Instead of being all over you, they have to be more mobile. That’s how I feel, anyway. And if they are [hitting] you, then that should mean there are two guys open. And, look, if they want to do that, I’ll donate my back a little bit.”

Frederic, in 119 career games, has 12 goals and 23 points.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The power play, missing key contributors Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy for the better part of the first two months, likely will have a number of different looks. Likely first-unit candidates will include Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Taylor Hall up front, with Lindholm and probably David Krejci at the point.

Advertisement



The No. 2 unit in the early going could be Frederic-Coyle-Smith up front, backed by Mike Reilly at one point. In the morning workout, Montgomery called on youngsters Studnicka and Georgii Merkulov for point duty.

“There’s a lot of skill in an athlete there that can do a lot of good things,” added Montgomery, reflecting on Frederic’s potential man-up assets. “At the net front, we’re hoping that’s an area he can dominate on retrievals, on deflections and also bump plays he can make from the goal line. It’s not just size. He’s got really soft hands.”

Looking ahead

The Flyers visit for a Saturday matinee (1 p.m.), prior to the Bruins hitting the road for games Monday night in New Jersey and a Wednesday rematch with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden . . . Montgomery experimented with a five-forward power-play unit in the morning, a group that featured Krejci, Pastrnak, Bergeron, Hall, and Jake DeBrusk. “With [McAvoy] out, it’s one thing we’re looking at, potentially,” said Montgomery. “Just because Krejci’s played [point] before, and we’ve had discussions how comfortable he is. He says he’s very comfortable, so it’s something we’re going to look at.”


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.