In his first press conference since signing a new deal with the Boston Bruins, forward Trent Frederic explained the areas of his game where he’d like to see improvement in 2021-22.
Frederic, 23, played 42 games and averaged 11:15 of ice time in an elevated role for the NHL club in 2020-21. Size and physicality were his calling card, as Frederic dished out 61 hits and racked up 65 penalty minutes.
Offensively, however, Frederic scored just four goals and an assist. And while he may never score a lot of points at the NHL level, there are finer details that he could improve in order to gain more trust from Bruce Cassidy and earn a more regular role in the lineup.
Namely, his footwork and decision-making.
“What I need to work on is probably just my skating and more confidence with the puck, making that right play, just with confidence, I guess,” Frederic told reporters during a Zoom conference Wednesday.
The Bruins have a pair of bottom-six regulars from the 2020-21 season that are up for new contracts. Left wing Nick Ritchie is on track to become an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent, while fourth-line forward Sean Kuraly is an impending unrestricted free agent.
Frederic could represent a logical replacement in the nightly lineup for either Ritchie or Kuraly. In the case of the latter, the Bruins may have to decide if Frederic were ready to play center. That might be a hard sell if decision-making is at the top of the list of areas to improve. If Curtis Lazar sticks around at fourth-line center, Frederic could slide into the left wing role.
Ritchie should be considered a candidate to stay, since he’s an RFA – and since he’ll be coming off a season in which he scored a career-best 15 goals while playing all 56 games and making 102 hits.
Frederic brought the kind of size and physical edge that the Bruins have moved away from in recent seasons. But they could use more players like Frederic in the bottom-six for the playoffs, in particular. The fact that the Bruins are locking Frederic in for the next two seasons shows that they view him as, at the very least, a valuable bottom-six piece for the immediate future.
The question is how much he’ll improve the skating and decision-making by the start of next season.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at email@example.com.