For the second consecutive year, the Boston Bruins have a player on Team USA at the World Championship tournament.
Played every year in May, until last year, the B’s didn’t have many opportunities to have players represent their countries because they were always playing for Lord Stanley’s chalice. In 2016, it’s Frank Vatrano’s turn to wear the red, white and blue.
Vatrano, who put up a rookie season for the ages with 36 goals in 36 AHL games while splitting time between the farm team and big club in Boston, was named to Team USA this week and gets to represent his nation in hockey again. For those who might not recall, he left Massachusetts in 2010 to spend two years in Ann Arbor, Michigan with the U.S. National team.
Vatrano’s elite release and laser shot were always a strong suit going back to his minor hockey days, but he made major strides in his conditioning this season and impressed coaches with his attitude and energy. But it’s that release, though…oy.
Like Torey Krug a year ago, playing for Team USA at the Worlds will give him an extended opportunity to play hockey at a high level when most everyone else in the organization is in offseason mode and allows Vatrano to come back energized with a legitimate chance to earn a spot on the big Bruins for the entire 2016-17 campaign and get even more minutes on one of the three top lines plus special teams time.
Here’s a look at his NHL goal-scoring work (posted by “Bruins Fan”) to the old Soprano’s theme song: