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A Career Back On Track

by Paul Hendrick / Toronto Maple Leafs

Matt Frattin
emerged from NCAA powerhouse North Dakota in 2011 as a Hobey Baker finalist and a can't-miss prospect the Leafs were hoping to develop into a top six talent.

A year later and Frattin hadn't missed a beat as he led the Toronto Marlies to the Calder Cup final.

A knee injury sustained in the Conference final, however, prevented the Edmonton native from playing against Norfolk that spring and inevitably impacted his future with the organization.

He was eventually traded to Los Angeles in the summer of 2013, starting a 14 month odyssey that saw him moved to Columbus and back to Toronto last summer in a deal for Jerry D'Amigo.

Frattin was reassigned to the Marlies in November with his career clearly at a crossroads.

The speedy right winger readily accepted the challenge scoring 26 goals in 59 games and finished the season at plus-10.

According to Frattin, the ability to succeed simply came down to confidence.

"It's huge, the last year and a half I hadn't played much. It's just so tough to get ice time in that league (the NHL). Down here I'm playing a lot and as you can see in my play, that's where the confidence is coming from."

Frattin has developed a real bond with line mates Byron Froese and William Nylander. Frattin joined the Marlies in November, Froese arrived in December while Nylander made his debut in late January.

A staggered beginning perhaps, but nothing but full bore since being assembled together as a line.

The trio combined for 41 points in 10 games in April alone, leading the Marlies to an 8-2 record and 7 consecutive wins to end the season.

At age 27 Frattin is a veteran on a Marlie team that's the youngest in the American Hockey League.

"We're really young but that's also where the skill comes from. All the guys are so talented, but it's their ability to work hard that makes them even more talented."

Frattin added, "Those kids are pushing us as leaders, and when you add the skillset that they bring day in and day out, it's something that's going to carry them to long careers."

Frattin's revitalization can also be paralleled with familiarity behind the bench. Coaches Gord Dineen and Derek King were assistants for Dallas Eakins when Frattin joined the organization 3 years ago.

"It's always nice to have a coach that you went to war with," says Frattin. "We've been through some battles together in 2012 going all the way to the finals. To be reunited with a coaching staff like that who know you as a player, and know how to keep you positive is nice to have."

That sense of trust and commitment will be vital as Frattin and the Marlies open up the post-season this weekend against highly touted Grand Rapids.

Short term goals include success this spring with the Marlies, but the long term objective remains making the Toronto Maple Leafs next fall says Frattin.

"That's everybody's goal in our dressing room and definitely one of mine."

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