Tales from the Draft floor: Why Boston took Frederic at 29


The Bruins surprised some by taking Trent Frederic at No. 29 in 2016. (Nathan Denette/CP)

Every year we see at least one ‘off the board pick’ that shocks the room. The collective “whoa” is one of my favourite sounds at the draft (right after Gary Bettman’s “we have a trade to announce”).

For some last year it was Columbus selecting Pierre-Luc Dubois at No. 3 (props to Sporsnet’s Sam Cosentino who called the pick weeks in advance), but down lower in the first round eyebrows were raised when Boston selected St. Louis native Trent Frederic out of the USNTDP at 29th.

Frederic, who’s OHL rights are held by the Niagara IceDogs but is attending the University of Wisconsin, was a stretch as a first-rounder for many, but was considered a solid pick for a team looking for a future third-line middleman. So why did Boston do it? Why take him that early?

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The Bruins have been stockpiling picks the past few years, specifically in the first round and last year they had two. With the 14th-overall selection they took standout right-shot blueliner Charlie McAvoy from BU—an outstanding player who will be an NHLer for a long time. With their second pick in the first round they could swing for the fence a little.

They had targeted Frederic going into the draft and thought they could probably get him in the second round, but at some point in the week leading up received intel that Anaheim (who had two firsts themselves) was planning on taking Frederic at No. 30. The collective decision was made to jump up and take him higher than perhaps they wanted, but at the end of the draft they “got their guy” as GMs are wont to say.

Speaking of Anaheim, at 30 they took Sam Steel, the two-way centre from the Regina Pats. His brother Patrick passed away in his sleep five years ago of heart failure at the age of 18 and the draft was a wonderful moment for the family, parents Larry and Sharon, and sister Katie. But the moment the Ducks called his name, the sounds of binders smacking shut, chairs being pushed out and loud discussions and guffaws rang through the First Niagara Center in Buffalo as the executives on the draft floor closed up shop. That while Steel was making his way to the podium to put on his Ducks jersey.

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Steel is off to a hot start with seven points in two games for the WHL’s Regina Pats. (Nathan Denette/CP)

On a personal note, this is supposed to be a league that prides itself on respect for the athlete, but none was shown Steel that night. It was unfortunate, unnecessary, selfish and rude. Is it too much to ask the 29 other teams to sit at their tables for the final pick and give the player his moment? This should have been a great occasion for Steel and his family, but unfortunately it was tarnished by the impatience of a collection of hockey people who couldn’t give an NHL first-round pick five minutes of its collective attention.

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