By this point in the season, even if you’re just a casual fan of the Boston Bruins, you’ve heard of Trent Frederic. The 23-year-old has found ways to make quite a name for himself so far this season. He finds ways to make his time on the ice memorable, even if he’s not the highest point scorer on the roster. His physical style of play, though, is something this roster has been lacking in recent seasons. Between him and Nick Ritchie, the team can pack a punch.
As famous Leafs fan and hockey commentator, Steve Dangle, said in a March 5 tweet, Frederic is “basically a Bruin created in a lab.” And he isn’t wrong. His style of play is reminiscent of Bruins players of old, and he has the size for it too. He stands at 6-foot-2 and is 203 pounds.
Besides his physical play, he’s been the biggest offensive contributor so far this season of all the rookies. The numbers aren’t fantastic, but given what he’s been able to do previously in his career, there is the potential for him to grow into a greater offensive contributor in the NHL.
Before the Draft
The St. Louis native was born on Feb 11, 1998. Frederic is a product of the United States National Development program, a program that has turned out some incredible NHL players in recent years. He centered the second line for that team behind Clayton Keller, who went seventh overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Level Draft to the Arizona Coyotes. He also played with notable names like Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox, both current defensemen on the New York Rangers.
He never had a super impressive offensive game while at the NTDP. In 23 games in the USHL, he had only four goals and 14 points. But, he had another 61 games for the U.S. National U18 team, where he hit the 20 goal mark and had 40 total points.
The Hockey Writers profiled Frederic leading up to the 2016 draft. Joseph Aleong had this to say about him.
Frederic combines a strong physical presence with a polished two-way game, which gives him the versatility to play anywhere in a lineup, and on both special teams. While he doesn’t seem to possess high offensive potential, as the 20 goals he scored represented the highest total of his minor career, his value as a jack-of-all-trades forward who is strong on faceoffs and is able to play centre made him a valuable commodity to his USA squad and will make him a starting player for the Wisconsin Badgers right away. His offensive creativity also isn’t the greatest, so he could be forced to transition to a wing position at some point, but his shot and skating abilities show enough promise to envision him as a potential 20 goal scorer in the professional ranks. His stickhandling ability is above average, but his puck protection skills and ability to play a possession game in the offensive zone is always of interest to NHL clubs.
Joseph Aleong, The Hockey Writers
Going into the 2016 NHL Entry Level Draft, he was ranked at 77 by THW, 51 by Bob Mckenzie at TSN, and 100 by Craig Button, also of TSN. Ultimately, this would put him somewhere in the region of the late second round or third round.
To everyone’s surprise, The Bruins went off the board and picked him at 29th overall. He was their second pick in the first round of the draft, taken after Charlie McAvoy at 14th overall.
The Road to the NHL
In the Fall of 2016, Frederic started at the University of Wisconsin. It was there that his game expanded. As a freshman, he played in 30 games and had 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points. He was also a plus-two and had 32 penalty minutes. At the end of the season, he won the Big Ten freshman of the year award.
In the 2016-17 season, Frederic was named the alternate captain, and in 36 games, he had 17 goals and 32 points. But he had his struggles that season, going four games without a point twice that season. As the first-line center, he struggled at times being the number one guy for the first time in his career (from ‘Trent Frederic leaves Wisconsin Badgers after sophomore season to sign with NHL’s Boston Bruins,’ Wisconsin State Journal, 03/14/2018).
Still, Frederic made the roster for Team USA at World Juniors. In seven games, he had five goals and helped the team win the Bronze Medal. After Wisconsin’s exit in the first round of the playoffs in 2018, he signed his professional contract and joined the Providence Bruins in the AHL. In 13 regular-season games, he had five goals and eight points. He only registered one assist in three playoff games that season.
In the AHL, Frederic grew into the aggressive instigator he has become known for today. He had 67 penalty minutes in the 2018-19 season and then led the AHL in penalty minutes in 2019-20 with 148. He also led the AHL last season in fighting majors, putting up penalty minutes that have become almost extinct in today’s NHL.
Offensively, he wasn’t as productive as he was in Wisconsin, but there is expected to be some adjustment period going from the NCAA to professional hockey. In 2018-19, he had 14 goals and 25 points in 55 games. He followed that up with eight goals and 32 points in 59 games in 2019-20 and was a plus-10. Who knows what he could have done if they played a full season.
There is something unique about Frederic’s game that not many NHLers have today, which is why he stood out in Providence. He could be the menacing aggressor while still finding ways to be a solid contributor. He’s everything you could want in a modern-day enforcer.
Frederic came into the 2020-21 season with 17 NHL games already under his belt. He got his first call up in the 2018-19 season, where he famously got into a fight in his first game with Brandon Tanev. He went on to play 15 games that season and two games in 2019-20 but was held off the scoresheet in all 17 games.
The offensive side of the game has been slow to develop for Frederic. He didn’t score his first NHL goal until a month into this season. But, like most things, when it comes to him, he found a way to make a splash, scoring his first during the 2021 game at Lake Tahoe on Feb. 21.
A year ago, Causeway Crowd wrote a story about Frederic and ended it by saying, “don’t be surprised to see Frederic turn into a fan favorite.” Looking back, we can see a year later that it has absolutely become true.
While only averaging 11:24 of ice time a night, Frederic has found ways to make every shift count. Whether it’s getting into a fight or managing to draw penalties from other players, he’s been a difference-maker and a mood maker for the Bruins this season.
And slowly but surely, the offensive game is coming along. He has four goals and one assist for five points in 28 games this season. But, all four of those goals have come in the last month, and three of them have been game-winners. His four goals have also all come at even strength, which puts him at sixth on the team in goals at 5v5, ahead of Nick Ritchie and Jake Debrusk.
While he still hasn’t quite reached the potential that one would expect from a first-round selection, Frederic has brought tremendous value to this team in 2021. He’s shown his scoring abilities in the past in Wisconsin and Providence. Given the team’s struggles to find offensive depth this season, maybe it’s time for coach Bruce Cassidy to give him a look in the top six.
What do you think? Do you think Frederic has more potential, or should he continue to be utilized in the bottom six? Comment down below your thoughts.
I’m Hannah Garfield, a graduate of Elon University with degrees in Film and Media Analytics. I’m a lifelong, passionate Boston sports fan and love all things Bruins.