Our Florida Panthers T25U25 countdown continues with a streaky winger that came over from Boston last season and acquitted himself well in red, blue and flat gold.
#10: Frank Vatrano
Team: Florida Panthers
On February 22, the Panthers traded a third-round pick in the 2018 draft to the Bruins to acquire forward Frank Vatrano. At the time, Vatrano had scored just two goals in 25 games of spot duty with Boston. In 16 games with the Panthers, the 24-year-old started to find his NHL groove and ended up producing 5 goals and 3 assists a pace that translates to 26 goals and 15 helpers over a full season.
In this time with Boston, the undrafted Vatrano proved himself a dominant AHL sniper, scoring 48 goals in 48 career games. In 108 games for the big-league club, he amassed 20 goals and 11 assists. Far less impressive, but keep in mind, 44 is the highest number of games he has played in one NHL season, so he could still be adjusting to the speed of the higher level.
Not particularly big or fast, Vatrano reminds me a bit of former Cat Brandon Pirri. A streaky scorer, who if given a full season and good enough linemates, could put up 20-25 goals. He seemed to be a better fit with Florida than he did with Boston, and prior to the offseason seemed to be a favorite for a spot on the third line in 2018-19.
With the summer acquisitions of Mike Hoffman and Troy Brouwer, and the possibility that veteran Mark Letestu (PTO) could make the team, not to mention prospects like Owen Tippett and Henrik Borgstrom knocking on the door, the fight for spots in Florida’s bottom-six is going to the story line of training camp. It will be vital for Vatrano to perform well at camp and in the preseason or he could find himself lighting it up as a depth player in Springfield or perhaps on way his way to another organization as he really has nothing left to prove at the AHL level.
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