By: Joe Todd | Follow me on Twitter @heyjoetodd
Trent Frederic, the 6’3 210-pound 23-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, was drafted with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. At the time of the selection, the pick was seen as controversial as future 40 goal scorer Alex DeBrincat, was taken just ten picks later. Originally projected to be drafted around #21, DeBrincat fell because of his 5’7, 165-pound stature. However, in his draft year, DeBrincat scored 65 goals, and had 127 points for the Erie Otters, and had not scored less than 100 points a season during his time in the OHL. While they played in different leagues with different competition, Frederic would top out at 65 points in 66 total games with the University of Wisconsin.
While hindsight is always 20/20, Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky only added to the picks controversy by suggesting that at the time of the pick, they knew that Frederic was not going to be a “top two-line guy” but instead claimed that Frederic was “an athlete,” “his character is outstanding,” and he “has some jam.” While DeBrincat has gone on to score 142 goals and 261 points in 324 NHL games for .80 points per game (PPG), Trent Frederic has tallied six goals and ten points in 83 games only .12PPG. What he lacks in offense, he makes up for it with his defensive responsibility as well as his toughness. He has fought Tom Wilson twice, and teams have taken notice of his physicality, an asset that still holds value in the league.
The problem now is that even though he was drafted with bottom-six potential in mind, he has since become a replaceable player on the Bruins roster. With the acquisitions of Curtis Lazar, Nick Foligno, and Tomas Nosek, and the developing play of Oskar Steen and Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic is on the outside of the lineup and will need to fight his way back in. Having missed the past three games with an upper-body injury, Blidh and Steen continue to make their marks as full-time NHL players, and with Foligno returning this week from injury, it is hard to see a scenario that features Frederic in the bottom six.
Where does he fit in the lineup?
Trent Frederic will not be playing his natural center position this year or even next year, barring injury. With Coyle and Nosek signed and positioned at 3C and 4C respectfully, Frederic will have to make his living on the left wing. He could find himself at 4C if Cassidy elects to play Nosek at 3LW after the eventual DeBrusk trade. However, the 3LW spot will most likely be saved for DeBrusk’s replacement acquired via trade or for veteran Nick Foligno on his natural side. Additionally, given the recent success of the Nosebleed line (Blidh – Nosek – Lazar), Frederic will have to beat out Anton Blidh, who has scored eight points in 18 games this year with four points coming in his last five games, for the 4LW spot. While Blidh and Frederic can both be considered replaceable players, Frederic is more intriguing of a trade piece for teams looking to improve the grit and scoring potential of their bottom six.
Possible trade piece?
As a 23-year-old player who has yet to hit his potential, teams could be interested in Frederic and his 6’3, 210lb frame. While the league has gotten quicker and more skilled, teams still value players with jam. Ryan Reaves was acquired by the Rangers for a third-round pick, which shows the kind of price teams are willing to pay to protect their star players. While Frederic may not be as intimidating as Reaves or his resume, Frederic’s own features seven fights, 134 hits, and 109 penalty minutes in his career.
Frederic can fill the role of an enforcer with the possibility to develop his scoring touch, given his age. Signed until the 2023 season at $1.05 million, which leads him to RFA status, Frederic could be a low-risk, high-reward piece in a trade to acquire a top-six forward or top-four defenseman. The question for Sweeney and company is whether or not he can be a staple third line/fourth line player for years to come, or is it time to move on for immediate, win-now help?