The Toronto Marlies were dealt a big blow in last year’s Calder Cup playoffs when Matt Frattin suffered a knee injury. He was playing outstanding hockey during that postseason run as he had 10 goals in 13 games prior to getting hurt. The loss of Frattin and an unforeseen bounce were ultimately too much for the Marlies to overcome in the finals against the juggernaut Norfolk Admirals.
Frattin finally made his return this past Friday after undergoing surgery and five months of recovery time on his knee, and he didn’t disappoint. He notched two goals in a loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Still, the organization wanted to be cautious so they opted to rest Frattin in the rematch the next day in Toronto. Which was probably the smart thing since the Marlies were in the middle of three games in three nights. After being inserted back into the lineup on Sunday against the Abbotsford Heat, Frattin added another goal giving him three in just two games.
In addition to his goal scoring totals, there were other signs for Leafs fans to be encouraged about. Frattin had four shots in each game and was a physical presence throwing his weight around all over the ice. Delivering a lot of hits is surely a good sign that his knee is rounding into form and he isn’t hesitant about dishing out contact.
With all the hype around young players like Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner, Frattin is sometimes a forgotten man when it comes to looking at the future core of the Leafs. With a lightning quick release, he made a name for himself during his senior season at the University of North Dakota by scoring 36 times in 44 games. From there Frattin appeared in 56 games in 2011-12 with the Leafs and had 15 points. Not spectacular, but not terrible either. If you look at his numbers with the Marlies from last season, things become a little more impressive. Aside from the aforementioned solid postseason, Frattin posted 18 points in 23 regular season games with the Baby Leafs in 2011-12.
If the lockout ended tomorrow there would be some question as to whether Frattin would be a regular in the Leafs lineup. With the offseason additions of James van Riemsdyk and Jay McClement, the forward group has gotten a little bit more muddled. Looking at several different publications projected depth charts for the team, some have Frattin as a top-12 forward and others don’t. What may hurt his chances is the sudden shocking abundance of centers the Leafs now have. You have to figure that two of these six – David Steckel, Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, Tyler Bozak, and McClement – will move to wing. Potentially bumping Frattin to an odd man out scenario.
If this stalemate ends between Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr before Donald Trump starts a renegade hockey league, then the Leafs will have some decisions to make at the forward position. Frattin’s knack for finding the back of the net could provide Toronto with some much needed secondary scoring help. At the very least, if the rumors about a deal for Roberto Luongo are true, let’s hope that Frattin isn’t headed back the other way.