WILMINGTON, Mass. -- If there were any question forward Trent Frederic was the type of player who would interest the Boston Bruins in the 2016 NHL Draft, it was answered when the St. Louis native was skating for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team late last season.
The Bruins became enamored with Frederic's attention to detail and intangibles. They also loved his ability to provide offense, with 14 points in 23 United States Hockey League games for the NTDP, and seven points in seven games during the NTDP's run to the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
But there was more. Prior to the U-18 World Championship, Frederic blocked a shot in a game and broke his hand. It hurt, but he didn't know it was broken so he kept playing. He was a point-per-game player in that tournament, all while showing the Bruins the type of grit and perseverance in the face of pain that has been the hallmark of many of the organization's greats over the years.
"I was putting some Icy Hot on it," Frederic said during Bruins development camp at Ristuccia Arena. "I kind of changed the grip on my stick. I wasn't going to miss that tournament so it didn't matter."
When the season ended, Frederic saw a trainer and went about getting his hand healed. He was off skates for about a month and he wasn't able to do pull-ups at the NHL Draft Combine. But he already had shown the Bruins what they wanted to see.
Frederic's toughness has since been tested in other ways. He was ranked 47th in the NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, but the Bruins selected him No. 29 in the draft. Bruins director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky didn't do Frederic any favors after the draft, when he described the 18-year-old as someone who "is not going to be a top-two line guy."
Frederic didn't let anyone's words get him down any more than his broken hand did.
"I'm just kind of excited to be on the team," he said. "It doesn't really matter where you get picked. It's just what you do from there.
"I guess I've got a little pressure [as a first-round pick], but I think I like that. So it makes me push myself harder. So it's good."
Despite his short time to prepare for his first development camp after recovering from his injury, Frederic held his own. The Bruins think some of his skill was overshadowed by his smarts and savvy, but he showed playmaking ability and a strong wrist shot in addition to his intangible attributes battling against the Bruins' other prospects.
"What we saw and what he demonstrated [in his draft year] with the U.S. National Team Development Program and growing up amongst a real top group of kids out of St. Louis, he's a tremendous athlete," Bruins executive director of player personnel John Ferguson said. "He is big and strong [6-foot-2, 203 pounds] in the middle. That size and strength in the middle projects well. We certainly think, we're not going to put a ceiling on anyone at this age, but he does demonstrate the ability to be a real solid two-way center with size.
"So aside from that, we're seeing what we expected to see, and frankly we're seeing some of the hands that he demonstrated [with the NTDP]."
Frederic's offensive role might expand this fall as a freshman at Wisconsin, where he'll play for former NHL star Tony Granato. Frederic is used to being tutored by NHL alumni; he spent much of his youth in the St. Louis area being coached by Jeff Brown, who played 13 seasons in the NHL and sometimes Keith Tkachuk, a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
Frederic believes he can be more productive offensively, and considering what he did with one healthy hand, he might have more to give with two.
"For sure, I think I do," he said. "And when I'm put in a position for the offensive side, maybe I can do it and deliver," he said. "I think that's one of the reasons they picked me as well."