By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4
It has been roughly one year since the Boston Bruins sent Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers for their 2018 third-round pick. The Bruins used this pick to draft versatile forward, Jakub Lauko. The future looks bright for Lauko, as he is currently playing well with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.
Yet, it appears that Vatrano has truly cemented himself as a top-six forward at the NHL level with the Panthers. A huge reason behind this is the fact that the team has given him a chance to thrive in offensive situations. It also helps that he is playing with an emerging two-way center in Vincent Trocheck. However, even with this being the case, Vatrano’s offensive potential has always been present. It was just a matter of him finding it consistently.
In 2015-16, Vatrano truly blossomed as a star at the AHL level when he registered 36 goals in just as many games with the Providence Bruins. This truly is a rare feat and one that warranted immense praise at the time. This would result in the team giving him a chance at the NHL level, and he would secure a spot with the team by providing some solid secondary scoring.
More of the same occurred in 2016-17 from him, but last season was when everything seemed to go downhill. He soon would find himself a healthy scratch with the team, as rookie forwards Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen outplayed him. Vatrano’s offense essentially was gone. He would only register two goals in 25 games with the team, and he failed to thrive in a defensive role. This is why the trade occurred.
When the move was made, it was met with a decent amount of praise. Getting a third rounder for a struggling forward was far more than what was expected. However, as soon as Vatrano arrived in Florida, he quickly found his scoring touch again. This was ultimately the risk of trading him. Management knew that he was a player who had offensive upside, but it simply could not occur with him playing in a bottom-six role.
Now, that is not to say that this move was a bad one. It was evident that Vatrano being scratched every night was not doing anything for his game, nor for the Bruins. However, it is clear that at this point in time, his services would be greatly appreciated. Depth scoring is seriously at a premium right now for the club. Nobody after the first-line, aside from David Krejci, has been able to provide consistent scoring for the team.
When looking at Vatrano stats this season, it is clear that he has been to maintain offensive success. In 49 games this season, he has been able to register 17 goals and 27 points. That is not necessarily an all-star campaign, but it is evident that it would be welcomed in Boston right now. In fact, it honestly can be said that it is desperately needed.
There is no way to prove that Vatrano would have been able to have this success playing Boston this year. In fact, one could argue that it would have been unlikely because of how far he fell down the depth chart. However, in a sense, this just shows how quickly everything can change in a matter of one season. The Bruins were at the top of the league in depth scoring last year, but now are struggling immensely. Meanwhile, Vatrano has gone from a 13th forward to a top-six one in Florida.
If one had to give a verdict on this deal, it is clear that Florida slightly has the upper hand right now. However, Lauko had an impressive rookie camp this year and has an abundance of potential. Also, the real question is if Vatrano can carry this success into later seasons. It is apparent that consistency has been an issue for him so we will see.
At the end of the day, this was just a solid hockey trade for all parties involved.