Matt Frattin working to catch on with LA Kings
Matt Frattin moved to Southern California this summer with a plan.
Three weeks before the Los Angeles Kings opened training camp, he found a place close to the ocean in Hermosa Beach, but he wasn't looking for surf or sand.
After an up-and-down hockey career filled with arrests and accolades, the 25-year-old Frattin realized the opportunity in front of him with his new club, and he didn't want to waste a day of it.
''I wanted to meet the guys as they came in (for camp), instead of meeting 25 guys at once,'' Frattin said.
The first few days of camp have gone well for Frattin, acquired by the Kings in a summer trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He's skating with veterans Jeff Carter and Mike Richards as the left wing of the Kings' second line, getting every opportunity to earn a high-profile job with the two-time Western Conference finalists.
''Ever since I got traded, I've had a warm welcome from the leaders in the room,'' Frattin said. ''They're a great group of guys, and I'm happy to be here.''
Frattin announced his arrival Tuesday night with a goal and two assists in the Kings' 6-0 rout of the Anaheim Ducks. Carter had two goals and an assist of his own, including a breakaway goal set up by a deflection off Frattin's stick.
Frattin has shown a good-looking shot and above-average speed in his brief time in town, but the Kings hope he's got the heart of a grinder who could do much of the dirty work on the Carter-Richards line. Frattin knows he must improve his defensive commitment to win coach Darryl Sutter's approval.
''If he wants to play with them guys, he's got to be a real north-south, energy sort of guy,'' Sutter said after seeing Frattin in a game for the first time Tuesday. ''We'll give him power-play time, give him some penalty-kill time. Make him work.''
For all of their veteran depth, the Kings are seriously short of proven left wings this fall beyond captain Dustin Brown. Grinder Kyle Clifford and newcomer Daniel Carcillo also play the position, but Frattin's skills could make him the best option for the second-line job.
So far, Frattin isn't star-struck playing alongside two high-scoring Stanley Cup champions.
''They're two great players,'' Frattin said. ''Carts has the fast speed down the wing, and he's got that long reach, and he has a great shot. Richie is just a smart, hard-working guy, and he'll get you the puck if you're wheeling. ... They're guys who have played in the Olympics and for Team Canada plenty of times, so they've definitely proven themselves. They definitely bring me along, and they're great linemates for me.''
Los Angeles also got goalie Ben Scrivens and a second-round draft pick for goalie Jonathan Bernier, widely considered a future star. Some Kings fans thought the franchise didn't get enough for Bernier, but Frattin believes he has potential he still hasn't reached.
The Alberta native played collegiately at North Dakota, but was kicked off the team and sent home in 2009 after getting arrested twice in two months for disorderly conduct and drunk driving. He elected to stick with school, working his way back onto the North Dakota roster and eventually becoming a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Toronto's fourth-round pick went pro in 2011, but still hasn't played a full NHL season, bouncing between the Leafs and the AHL Marlies during each of the past two years. He still found a regular role on the right side of Toronto's third line, and he got his first taste of playoff hockey in the Leafs' agonizing first-round loss to the Boston Bruins.
Frattin hasn't completely made the transition to West Coast life: His Twitter page background is still a photo of him in a Maple Leafs uniform. The move to Los Angeles surprised him, but Frattin quickly realized the opportunity he had been granted.
''I really didn't think I was going to get traded,'' he said. ''But everybody wants to be a part of a winning team.''