For much of training camp, it looked like Trent Frederic was slated to be the Bruins’ 13th forward. Now, after just five games, it’s hard to imagine him coming out of the lineup, even when David Pastrnak returns in a week or two.
Frederic got into the opening night lineup thanks to a minor injury to Craig Smith, and he hasn’t left it since. While a couple other forwards have moved in and out or up and down the lineup, Frederic has not-so-quietly established himself as a regular.
Somewhat soft-spoken off the ice, Frederic has quickly become a fan favorite in part because of how loud he is on it. Frederic went viral this week thanks to a clip from NESN’s “Behind the B” in which he repeatedly chirped Devils defenseman and longtime Bruins nemesis P.K. Subban, including telling him to “Post another [expletive] workout video, you [expletive] loser,” in reference to Subban’s Instagram presence.
Being a good trash-talker doesn’t win you a full-time NHL job, but that aspect of Frederic’s game serves as a good entry point into everything else he’s doing well.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has talked about the need for the Bruins to be hard to play against, especially offensively, and Frederic has emerged as a great example of that. The 2016 first-round pick has been physical, he’s gone hard to the net, he’s won battles, and yes, he’s gotten under opponents’ skin.
He drew a roughing penalty on Subban in that game against the Devils. He drew two more penalties in Saturday’s 6-1 win over the Flyers -- one a hooking call on Mark Friedman after Frederic won a battle in the corner, the other an unsportsmanlike conduct on Friedman after Frederic continued to annoy him all night. In total, Frederic has drawn a team-high four penalties this season, and he has not yet been sent to the box himself.
The Bruins scored on the power plays that followed both of his drawn penalties Saturday. He also helped new linemates Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle score a pair of five-on-five goals.
On Smith’s, Frederic didn’t get a point, but he did drive hard to the net and occupy a defender, which helped free up Smith to bury a pass from Coyle. He then directly assisted on Coyle’s, picking up an indirect pass from Smith and then throwing the puck to the front of the net for a Coyle redirect -- registering his first NHL point in the process.
That’s how you back up the talk. That’s how you really make a difference and earn a regular job. Frederic had already shown he was a good fit on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner (that trio had a 70.8% expected goals-for percentage through three games), and on Saturday he showed he’s more than capable of moving up to the third line, too (the Bruins had a 7-0 shots on goal advantage when Frederic, Coyle and Smith were on the ice).
“I’ve been pushing him just to keep his feet moving and play in straight lines and if he gets a chance to put it to the net, do it,” Cassidy said. “Keep it simple that way, and he’s done a good job. The abrasiveness, we welcome it. It’s one of the things we talk to him about. You don’t have to go out there and be a goof, but get to the net, finish your checks, be ornery, piss some people off, whatever it needs to be. I think he’s bought into all those things.”
If he continues to do all those things, he’s going to keep winning over Bruins fans, keep irritating opponents and, most importantly, keep earning playing time and helping the Bruins win games.