Trent Frederic's selection at No. 29 overall turned heads. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

Surprise first-rounder Trent Frederic, who once played shinny with David Backes in Keith Tkachuk's basement, doesn't care about draft status anymore

DJ Bean
July 12, 2016 - 12:29 pm

Trent Frederic's time in the Bruins organization got off to a weird start. First, the Bruins made the St. Louis native's dream come true when they made him a first-round pick in the NHL draft. Yet Frederic, a projected second or third-rounder whom Central Scouting ranked the 47th-best North American skater in the draft, immediately became one of the most questioned picks of the weekend. It didn't help when, a day later, the team's director of amateur scouting said that Frederic is "not going to be a top two line guy" and that the team was OK with that. Frederic admitted Tuesday that he was surprised when he was taken 29th overall, but noted that he went into Buffalo with the feeling that he would go anywhere from the late first to the early third-round. Typically, a player with Frederic's kind of game -- he's got "jam," as they say -- doesn't go early in the draft, and they use the mindset that draft status doesn't matter once you're given an opportunity. Frederic is taking the same mentality despite his fortune of being made a surprise first-rounder. "I just really don't think it matters," he said after his first development camp practice. "If you look at a seventh-round guy and a first-round guy, there's not much difference. It all comes down to the work you put in now." Frederic projects as a bottom-six center, and though the Bruins could have swung for the fences more with a higher-end talent, a player taken in the late 20s who carves out a career as a third-line player would be considered a "hit" as draft picks go. On Tuesday, Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo took the opportunity to provide a little damage control regarding Gretzky's comments, projecting a much higher upside for the University of Wisconsin-bound player. "He's a really good athlete," Pandolfo said. "He's explosive. ... He probably has a little better skill than people give him credit for. He's got some upside more than maybe just a third-line player. I know that's kind of what everyone was saying, but there were a lot of teams that were pretty high on this kid. I think he just kind went under the radar playing for that US (Under-18) team with some top skilled players." Frederic said upon being drafted that he'd always looked up to David Backes and modeled his game after the longtime Blues center. One week later, the Bruins signed Backes, presenting the scenario that the two could end up teammates one day. Interestingly enough, however, it wouldn't be the first time the two played together. Growing up friends with Matthew Tkachuk and his siblings, Frederic's family and the Tkachuks became family friends. As you'll remember from this wonderful feature on Lee Stempniak, the Tkachuk house was something of a dormitory for young Blues players back in the day. As he did with Stempniak, Tkachuk housed Backes when the center was breaking into the NHL. "I actually played shinny hockey with him when I was really young," Frederic said. "He was living with the Tkachuks. He probably doesn't remember that, but I do." Given that he's still 18, there's plenty of time for Frederic to develop into an NHL player and join his idol on the Bruins' roster during Backes' five-year contract. If he can prove to have a higher ceiling than expected, an initially criticized pick could end up being a rather useful selection.