Boston Bruins Forward Frank Vatrano Breaking Out as the Team Looks to Find Consistency
Boston Bruins forward Frank Vatrano is starting to come into his own. the legend of Vatrano started last season when a young undrafted player from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts was signed by the Bruins. Without the expectations of a high draft pick, Vatrano was set to play with the Providence Bruins in the AHL. A love for the game and a skillset that seemingly went unnoticed by 29 other teams led to a 36-goal rookie season for Vatrano in Providence. As impressive as that is, it barely paints the picture that’s needed to fully grasp how good Vatrano’s season truly was.
It’s been widely documented at this point, but Vatrano is a freakish goal-scorer. As mentioned, Vatrano scored 36 goals in the AHL last season. The truly amazing part, however, comes with the fact that he played in just 36 games. Scoring a goal-per-game isn’t easy, but it’s something Vatrano was able to do, even with call-ups to the NHL interrupting his progress – a fact that Vatrano wouldn’t complain about as it was simply an opportunity to play.
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A Hidden Gem Who Slipped Past Many Teams
At just 5-foot-9, his size may have scared off potential NHL suitors. Still, the Bruins gave the hometown boy a chance to play. Though he may be 5-foot-9, Vatrano also weighs over 200 pounds and has shown that he can play a professional-level game. In his first 39 games at the NHL level, Vatrano scored eight goals and 11 points. Pro-rating those totals for an 82-game season would put him at 17 goals and 23 points. The Bruins saw the goal-scoring potential, but the inconsistency at the NHL level was something that needed to be fixed.
With an expanded role expected for the 22-year-old this year, an obstacle was hit. Vatrano was injured prior to the start of the season and was forced to miss much of the first half of the year. Upon returning from injury, Vatrano picked up right where he left off. Prior to re-joining the NHL roster, Vatrano was assigned to Providence for a conditioning stint. As expected, Vatrano played in two games and scored two goals, giving him 38 goals and 57 points in 38 career AHL games.
NHL-Ready and Breaking Out
Vatrano was ready to make the jump to the NHL again. While it came at the expense of a David Backes injury, Vatrano received top-six minutes relatively quickly due to the effort he gave every game. In 10 NHL games this season, Vatrano has scored three goals and six points – a much more balanced attack than he gave in his rookie year. When Backes was ready to return, Vatrano remained in the top-six with Ryan Spooner being returned to his natural center position on the third line.
While we’ll never know what Vatrano might have been able to do in 82 games, a pro-rated total would give him roughly 25 goals and 49 points on the year. Those totals are highly respectable and reflect what Bruins’ fans hope Vatrano can be year-in and year out. While it’s still too early to tell how good Vatrano will actually be at the NHL level, he’s certainly one of the most fun players to watch on the team.
Consitently Ice Time and Consistent Results
One thing that isn’t in question is Vatrano’s desire to shoot the puck. While there are knocks on some players who hesitate at times to fire the puck on net, that’s never been an issue for No. 72. It isn’t uncommon to see Vatrano shoot the puck and then catch his own rebound before re-directing another shot on goal. Despite being smaller than the prototypical NHL player, Vatrano is still able to control the puck well and get his entire weight behind his shots.
Though it’s been just 10 games, Vatrano looks like he’s finally breaking out. If given consistent top-six minutes, the second-year forward could find his own consistency on a game-to-game basis. For Boston, consistency will be important if they want to reach the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Vatrano could be a big factor in helping them do that.