Recently, the Florida Panthers and division rival Boston Bruins finalized an unsuspecting deal, sending promising forward Frank Vatrano to FLA in exchange for a 2018 third-round draft selection.
Frank Vatrano is currently nursing a nagging injury; however, HC Bob Boughner stated that Vatrano should return tonight, playing on the 2nd line alongside the scorching-hot Jonathan Huberdeau and perennial all-star Vincent Trocheck.
Although Vatrano’s slotted within the top 6, the expectations are that Frank predominantly plays within the offensively challenged bottom 6. Upon returning from injured reserve, could Vatrano possibly uplift the Cats’ depleted bottom 6 forward group?
The Florida Panthers are currently dominating their competition, substantially increasing their current probabilities of clinching a playoff berth (sitting around 77%). Florida has notably received consistent offensive production from their highly talented forwards such as Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Evgeni Dadonov.
Although, Florida’s bottom 6 forward group, consisting of insufficient, aging producers such as Radim Vrbata, Jamie McGinn, Micheal Haley, and Derek MacKenzie, simply haven’t provided goals when necessary on a consistent basis, seemingly struggling offensively year-long.
Additionally, Florida has presented numerous opportunities towards youngsters Connor Brickley, Dryden Hunt, and Chase Balisy; however, those aforementioned players proved incapable of producing much-needed offense when called upon.
Due to Florida’s relatively inconsistent bottom 6, Dale Tallon quickly formulated a compelling package, stealing Frank Vatrano from Boston (Vatrano was the sole acquisition Tallon made throughout the trade deadline).
Vatrano, standing at a mere 5’9 and weighing roughly 201lbs, has received noteworthy praise from GM Dale Tallon; ultimately anticipating for Frank to secure a top 9 slot in the daily lineup, inevitably. Vatrano has recorded an abysmal slash line of 2G, 0A, and 2 points while participating in 25 regular season contests, averaging approximately 9:27 TOI nightly, as a member of the offensively potent Boston Bruins.
Despite Vatrano’s horrid, unexpectedly low scoring totals, Frank has undoubtedly displayed numerous signs or flashes of potentially becoming a break-out player, since becoming signed as an undrafted free agent by Boston years ago.
While participating in 39 contests, as a 21-year-old inexperienced rookie, Vatrano surprisingly registered an impressive 8G in incredibly limited minutes. In the previous season (2016-17), Frank recorded career-high numbers across the board, accumulating 10G, 8A, and 18 points in 44 games played.
Vatrano received significantly more minutes, averaging approximately 13:29 TOI nightly, resulting in adequate performances and enhanced offensive production. Hence, practically suggesting that by distributing ample playing time for Vatrano, the 24-year-old’s offensive game will indubitably benefit significantly.
Frank’s progression or continuous growth was unnoticed, especially from Boston’s head-coaching staff, limiting Vatrano’s development tremendously. By presenting Vatrano with low-quality linemates (4th line regular), Vatrano’s scoring numbers indubitably regressed, resulting in growing frustration from Boston’s management.
This ultimately led to suddenly dealing a promising, former 36G scorer (AHL) and 10G scorer (NHL), within their division to a surging FLA club vying for a playoff seed.
Frank’s defensive game isn’t necessarily polished; although, defensive-minded HC Bob Boughner could certainly assist Frank heavily, improving Frank’s inconsistent two-way play. In addition, the trade could benefit Florida and Vatrano alike. The Panthers obtained a well-regarded, unproven former Bruin to contribute offensively; therefore, implying that Vatrano will surely receive greater minutes on a game-by-game basis.
While Vatrano’s on-ice impact remains a question mark currently, Dale Tallon and Bob Boughner will collectively ensure Vatrano receives glorious opportunities to achieve personal success, thus benefiting the team’s success, in result.