It’s becoming harder to deny that Trent Frederic, with the way he’s played to start this season, is making it near impossible to get bumped out of the lineup.
That’s not something said too often about a guy with two goals and one assist through 20 games.
Frederic is an interesting case study in the ongoing conversation about where the game is headed for “enforcers.” Gone are the days where a player can be totally inept offensively but just police the ice for four minutes a night, maybe fight someone and still play 82 games a season.
The 23-year-old isn’t that guy, though, in part because he has shown decent enough offense in the lower levels to suggest he eventually will score more and create more scoring at the NHL level.
He went back and forth all game long with one of the most prolific goal-scorers in NHL history, Alex Ovechkin. Frederic tried to fight the Caps star, to no avail. Things came to a head in the third period though, when a couple of Frederic cross-checks to Ovechkin caused him to snap, spearing Frederic in the nether regions.
Both got penalties, but here’s the key thing: Frederic got the Capitals’ most dangerous player off the ice for two minutes in the final minutes of a tied game.
And it’s not the first time he did that, either. Last month, he managed to goad Tom Wilson into a fight late in a game, and Wilson obliging actually drew the ire of Peter Laviolette. Frederic also, as he put it, got in the kitchen of PK Subban early in the season.
These aren’t just fourth-line grinders he’s throwing off their game — they’re impactful players.
Now, taking slashes down below probably isn’t something Frederic can do every game. But what he is doing each contest is identifying someone he wants to throw off, and he’s largely doing it successfully.
Even if the scoring doesn’t come around, he’s a good defensive player and can play center or wing, and most teams will take a roughly 12-to-15 points per season player if they’re able to agitate the way he can.
So, get used to seeing plenty of Frederic; he’s earned his place in the lineup.