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2022 Player Ratings: A season of growth, but is there more to come for Trent Frederic?

Career highs on offense, but it still wasn’t quite enough to silence the critics.

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Trent Frederic in 2022

Key stats: 60 GP, 8G, 10A, 18PTS

Other stats: 57 PIM, 119 hits, 42.1% oZS (5v5), 50.2% CF (5v5)

Reader rating: 4.5

Writer rating: 4

At this point in his young NHL career, Trent Frederic is a bit of a polarizing figure among Bruins fans.

Some love his willingness to fight, willingness to throw his body around, and general willingness to cause chaos; others bemoan his undisciplined penalties, relatively meager offensive output, and general unpredictability.

If we’re going to look at things objectively, it’s fair to say that both sides have valid points.

Frederic’s willingness to mix it up with the likes of Tom Wilson and others is something every team needs. Hits and physicality can change a game, but so can silly crosschecking penalties. When you look at Frederic’s rating (split the difference and call it 4ish), most of us around these parts considered his season “slightly below fine.”

On the one hand, Frederic set career highs in goals, assists, points, games played, shots, shot attempts, hits, blocked name it.

With that in mind, it’s hard to argue the fact that Frederic took a step forward last season. He was an NHL regular for 75% of the year, and rewarded Bruce Cassidy (for the most part) with career-best production.

However, many will remember Frederic’s season for the things he did and shouldn’t have (ill-advised penalties) than for the things he did well (8 even-strength goals, in spite of relatively tough sledding in terms of deployment).

Fair or unfair, Frederic is probably going to be viewed through DeBrusk/Zboril Glasses: that’s to say that his draft position will always hang over his head.

I remember the head-scratching when the Bruins drafted him at the end of the first round in 2016, ahead of guys like Jordan Kyrou (in retrospect) and Alex DeBrincat (obvious even back then).

The knock in 2016 was that he projected to be a middle-six NHLer at best; why use a first-round pick?

Of course, that’s not really fair to Frederic, nor should it hang over his entire NHL career, as he didn’t choose where he was drafted.

I think the issue for many fans is being unable to figure out what, ideally, Frederic is:

  • A shit-stirrer who’s willing to fight, might produce on offense sometimes, and forces you to accept the bad with the good?
  • A Milan Lucic-Lite (maybe not to that level, but you get the idea), who can play physical hockey, give you a bit of an edge, and reliably put up points?

My guess in trying to read Don Sweeney’s mind is that the B’s were hoping for more of the latter — and while we saw some of that last season, it wasn’t as consistent as it needed to be.

Frederic found himself benched a handful of times down the stretch for undisciplined play, then ended up getting scratched in the playoffs too (Bruce Cassidy cited a “learning curve” in the latter instance).

He also had plenty of great moments, including scrapping with Wilson, irritating PK Subban, and scoring the eventual game-winning goal against Ottawa in a February tilt.

Ups, downs, ups, downs.

When he’s “on,” Frederic can be fun to watch. I’m pretty far from an “every team needs an enforcer!” guy, but even I can acknowledge that teams benefit from the “in your face” type of player Frederic can be.

Ideally, he’s a guy who benefits from Jim Montgomery’s arrival. While not quite at DeBrusk’s level, Cassidy had a relatively short leash with Frederic, fairly or unfairly. New coach, probably new linemates, new chance to build on some offensive productivity.

Frederic has shown that he can be a productive, impactful player at the NHL level, provided he plays to his strengths and leaves the bad penalties behind.

The question now is whether 20ish points will be a plateau, or whether he can build on the good parts of last season and take another step forward in 2022-2023.