While there are plenty of well-wishers in Los Angeles who wish their now-former netminder Jonathan Bernier nothing but the best in his next stop in Toronto, there are still quite a few naysayers from both sides who aren’t go gung-ho about this morning’s trade between the Kings and Leafs.
After speculation that dated back a few summers, it wasn’t until recently that the Los Angeles Kings were serious about moving Jonathan Bernier. With the 24-year-old backstop set to become a restricted free agent this summer, the time was now to make a trade. Dean Lombardi made the move acquiring right-winger Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens and a second-round draft choice in return. So, was it a good move?
With Frattin, some fans in Los Angeles expressed reticence about the 25-year-old. At 6-feet, 200 pounds, Frattin is considered undersized on a team whose forwards average around the 6-foot-2 mark. But let’s not forget that captain Dustin Brown and Brad Richardson are both the same height as Frattin and Mike Richards is actually a little shorter at 5’11. Also, five additional Kings forwards are listed at 6’1. As of now, six Los Angeles forwards are billed less than Frattin’s 200 pounds. Whether these numbers even mean anything remains to be seen but if lack of size is the liability some believe it to me, it might be helpful to look into the careers of Martin St. Louis and Danny Briere just to name a couple.
After splitting time between the Leafs and the AHL’s Marlies this past season, Frattin found some success with the big club in Toronto scoring seven goals and adding six assists in 25 games with the Leafs. In addition, Frattin racked up a +6 rating to go along with a 62.5% rating in the faceoff circle. Now, while the argument can be made that the Kings already have a solid faceoff man in Jarret Stoll, it doesn’t take a genius to point out that Los Angeles struggled mightily in said department this postseason while Stoll was sidelined with a concussion. Some extra help in one department isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it rarely is.
Like the Kings just a few years earlier, the Toronto Maple Leafs ended their eight-year playoff drought (well, nine if you count the canceled season of 2005) and Frattin was a significant part of that.
A native of Edmonton, Frattin may not fit in with Los Angeles’s top two lines but he will fit somewhere in the mix and still be an important fixture to the Kings’ offense next season. On the surface, I can picture Frattin gelling on a line with Trevor Lewis or Colin Fraser but we’ll have to wait until training camp and possibly beyond to see where the newest King ends up.
As a right-winger, Frattin doesn’t exactly fill one of Los Angeles’s biggest needs which is a left-winger but maybe some juggling will see the 25-year-old end up on the left side. After all, being a right-handed shooter may lead to Frattin having an easier time moving the puck instead of playing on the right.
Also, being that he is set to become an restricted free agent next summer, Kings fans may believe that 2013-14 will be a make-or-break year for Frattin – and they may be right. Unlike this past season, though, the Kings are preparing for a full 82-game schedule which will give Frattin more than enough time to make his mark in Los Angeles and hopefully find an identity.
The many Leafs fans I spoke to were not happy to see Frattin go and rightfully so. Some believe acquiring Jonathan Bernier was a waste of time considering the Leafs already have James Reimer in between the pipes while others were relieved to see the Leafs landing Bernier instead of forking over a ton more money and a bigger commitment to Roberto Luongo or a plethora of uncertainty (not to mention a very short-term fix) in Tim Thomas.
The fact of the matter is simple: until the puck drops to open the 2013-14 season, all the speculation spewing from every side of the table will be just that. Even when the season does start, no one will have any idea which team got the better end of the deal.
While I am disappointed to see Jonathan Bernier leave, a move was inevitable and I make no reservations in welcoming Matt Frattin to the fold in Los Angeles.
How he fares in Southern California remains to be seen but if watching the youngster in Toronto was any indication, I have plenty of reason to be optimistic – as should all the Kings fans.
Dustin Penner arrived to Los Angeles with a lot of promise only to be disappointing during the majority of his stay. Colin Fraser’s arrival to Los Angeles barely hit the radar but he’s made a solid impact with the Kings despite that. Matt Frattin’s arrival is similar to the latter and I have every reason to believe the result will be similar to the latter as well.