( Above Photo Credit: DobberProspects .com )
By: Jesse Jimenez
Follow me on Twitter: @Jessemedscience
It wasn’t too long ago that Frank Vatrano burst onto the scene. The East Longmeadow, Ma native took the AHL by storm after scorching the league with 36-goals in as just as many games for the Providence Bruins. Vatrano, 23, signed with the Bruins as a free agent after preceding his senior year at UMass Amherst. His quick release and powerful shot are well documented. The natural scoring ability impressed the Bruins brass enough to bring the pure sniper into the fold.
Vatrano managed to get into 39-games during the 2015-2016 season, potting 8-goals and 11-points in a limited role. In hopes of building off his NHL experience the previous season, Vatrano worked hard during the off-season focusing mainly on his conditioning and foot-speed. However, before the start of the 2016-2017 campaign, the 23-year old suffered an unfortunate left foot injury that resulted in torn ligaments. Although he managed to score 10-goals in 44-games his play was quite inconsistent — Perhaps a result of having a late start to the season.
( Above Photo Credit: nhl .com )
Despite his elite shot, Vatrano rarely was able to get in position to show it off. The inability to regularly find the open spots at the NHL level really hampered is offensive contribution to a team that was desperately looking for secondary scoring. The 2016-2017 season showed some glaring deficiencies in Vatrano’s game. The lack of puck-skills and vision in the offensive zone were pretty apparent at times where he would rush a shot instead of waiting out a defensemen or looking for second options. Puck management and keeping possession of the puck was also unimpressive attributes.
The lack of production and uninspired play could not have come at the worst time for Vatrano as fellow youngsters Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork look primed to challenge for an NHL job. There’s a LW vacancy on David Krejci’s line, one Vatrano clearly had the inside track on, but that in itself is now out of his control. Unfortunately, beyond the scoring prowess, there’s not much else to Vatrano’s game. Creativity is close to non-existent, and although he has decent speed, it takes him a while to reach full throttle.
( Above Photo Credit: usahockey .com )
Due to so many prospects on the cusp of skating on NHL ice this year Vatrano’s time with the Bruins may be coming to an end. With the club looking for top-4 options it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the young left-winger as part of a package in a trade. At the end of the day, Vatrano is still only 23-years old, and most of his short-comings are areas that a coaching staff can help the youngster refine. Whether he sees his full potential blossom in Boston or in a different sweater remains to be seen.
Jesse “The Dominican PuckHead”