30 in 15: Frattin aims for big role with Kings
NHL.com continues its preview of the 201314 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.
All Matt Frattin wants from the Los Angeles Kings is an opportunity to impress, a chance to establish himself as a full-time NHL player.
He's getting that and much more.
Frattin should start the regular season on a line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. It's a dream job for any forward who thinks he's ready to take the next step in his career, and maybe just enough to turn Frattin into one of the Kings' most dangerous scoring threats for the foreseeable future.
"It's the preseason now so definitely they're still juggling lines, but I've been paired with those two [Richards and Carter] the whole time, we've played well and we just have to keep doing what we're doing," Frattin told NHL.com. "Definitely I want to establish myself and this is a great opportunity, a great team to be with."
Frattin's opportunity with the Kings, Carter and Richards didn't come by mistake or happenstance.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had been scouting Frattin since he was scoring goals for the University of North Dakota. Frattin said he was told about the opportunity with Carter and Richards almost immediately after the Kings acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 23.
The Kings weren't going to re-sign left wing Dustin Penner because Lombardi knew they needed more speed up front. In Frattin, he also knew he would be getting someone who had a quick release and a knack for finding scoring areas.
"He's got some things that are hard to teach," Lombardi told NHL.com.
Bernier was a restricted free agent and keeping him would have been a luxury the Kings could not afford, especially with Jonathan Quick already entrenched as the No. 1 goalie in Los Angeles. Turning Bernier into Frattin might turn out to be a coup for the Kings.
Frattin is 25 years old and had seven goals in 25 games with the Maple Leafs last season. He still hasn't played an 82-game NHL season, but he's shown an ability to score and be a grinder at the same time. He can fill the role Penner had with Carter and Richards by using his strength on the puck and off it to clear space for the two All-Stars, but his speed gives that line a dimension it did not previously have.
"First off, he's exceptionally well-trained, which allows him to really utilize his skill set," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "He's got really good hands and he can really skate. Those are three pretty good attributes to have coming into training camp and to start the season."
To make it work quickly in Los Angeles, Frattin had to find a way to fit in as an outsider joining a close-knit, championship team. He has done just about everything in his power to do that.
"I came down about three weeks before training camp and started to meet the guys as they were coming in instead of coming in later and meeting 25 guys at once," Frattin said. "I thought that was a good thing to do. Everybody has given me a warm welcome, brought me right in. It's a great team with great leaders."
Frattin constantly is working on his game with Sutter and assistant coaches John Stevens and Davis Payne. He spends a lot of time watching videos of him and Kings captain Dustin Brown, who like Frattin is a right-handed shot playing on his off wing.
"There's a lot to learn from him," Frattin said of Brown. "He has established himself on his off side."
The Kings are giving Frattin an opportunity to do the same. If it works with Richards and Carter, they may have an even faster version of Brown on their second line.
"You can't ask for anything more," Frattin said. "Everybody in the whole organization has been telling me they've been trying to trade for me since college. I'm at a place where they want me and want me to succeed. Any player wants that. I just have to keep a level head, play my game and have my ears open to any opinions the coaching staff has."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer