Boston Bruins Training Camp is presented by AT&T.
BOSTON - Young hockey players looking to emulate an NHL player with an elite shot need look no further than Bruins forward Frank Vatrano. With a lightning-quick release and top-notch accuracy, the East Longmeadow native has forged his path to the NHL behind his impressive shot.
After averaging a goal per game over 36 contests at the AHL level two years ago, Vatrano entered last fall's training camp with high expectations.
Unfortunately, a foot-injury prior to the season held him out for months and prevented him from completely settling into his game.
"It's kind of a mental game when you're younger and when things aren't going your way," Vatrano said during the first weekend of training camp. "You have to keep a steady mind and just keep a positive mindset. I think that's the biggest thing for me, is don't get down on myself when I make mistakes or I'm not playing the best."
Vatrano entered this training camp at full health and with a focus on establishing himself as a well-rounded two-way player in the Bruins lineup.
"I just want to prove to Boston and everyone that I can be a full-time NHL player," Vatrano said. "I can play a 200-foot game, I can play a consistent game night in and night out, and that's just what I have to prove here starting today."
So far during camp, Vatrano has been skating on the wing alongside veteran David Backes and rookie Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson. And with plenty of competition for the Bruins' open wing positions, the 23-year-old expressed a willingness to do whatever it takes to make the Opening Night roster, regardless of which side he ends up on.
"For me, it doesn't really matter," Vatrano said. "Whatever gets me in the lineup, whatever the team feels I should do to help the team succeed, that's where I'm going to play. Defense, forward, whatever."
With the new season approaching, Vatrano has identified some areas in his game to improve upon.
"Defensive awareness, consistency, make sure I'm not getting lost, those are all things that I know and they tell me I need to do," Vatrano said. "For me, everyone sees my shot, but I want to be that guy that can hold on to the puck, make a lot more plays.
"I don't want to be a one-trick pony as they say. So for me, it's just bringing that 200-foot game, and that consistency is the biggest thing for me."