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Following a breakout 2018-19 season for the Florida Panthers, forward Frank Vatrano is continuing to thrive on Florida’s third line.
The 25-year-old native of Massachusetts was previously acquired from the Boston Bruins during the 2017-18 NHL season for only a third-round draft pick. As a member of the Florida Panthers, Frank Vatrano has produced consistent numbers on the offensive end, earning a permanent role on the top-nine forward unit.
The undersized winger has seemingly developed into a reliable sniper and 5-v-5 weapon for Florida. While participating in 81 regular-season games during the 2018-19 campaign, Vatrano recorded career-high marks in goals (24), assists (15), points (39), penalty minutes (38), and games played (81).
More impressively, Frank Vatrano recorded 22 even-strength goals, providing the power-play reliant Cats with a much-needed 5-v-5 goal-scoring option. Furthermore, Vatrano also developed into a dependable two-way winger on Florida’s third line, playing a proficient game on the defensive end, too.
While averaging roughly 15 minutes of ice time per game, Vatrano recorded a whopping 139 hits as well as 74 blocked shots. As well, he even registered more takeaways (33) than giveaways (30) on the season. While things didn’t necessarily work out with Vatrano’s hometown Bruins, the Panthers certainly found themselves a diamond in the rough.
Vatrano’s contributions during the 2019 NHL season earned himself a well-deserved three-year contract extension. The extension carries an annual average salary of $2.53 million per season. Considering he’s already established himself as a polished top-nine scoring weapon, GM Dale Tallon locked up “Frank the Tank” for an absurd bargain price.
The 2019-20 season has been a pretty good one for the consistent producing Vatrano. While participating in 18 games, the durable Vatrano has already recorded 6 goals and 3 assists for 9 total points, averaging approximately 0.50 points per game.
In addition, Vatrano has seemingly gained the trust of new bench boss Joel Quenneville, playing a career-high of nearly 16 minutes of ice time per game.
As well, Quenneville has given the versatile, speedy Vatrano with opportunities on the power-play and penalty kill units. Despite producing mostly during 5-v-5 action, Vatrano has already recorded one goal on the PP and one goal on the PK, thus far.
On the defensive end, Vatrano has continued his brilliance in his own zone. The lightning-quick winger has produced 16 blocked shots as well as 14 total hits, along with more takeaways (5) than giveaways (3) on the season.
Essentially, Vatrano has been a crucial component in Florida’s race for a top-three seed in the Atlantic Division this season. Moreover, the feisty Vatrano has provided the Panthers’ third line with stability, forming excellent chemistry with speedy linemate Denis Malgin.
In essence, Frank Vatrano has unquestionably provided a positive impact on the Panthers, helping the Cats win a majority of games by embracing a more significant role on the team.
He’s arguably been one of the most underrated and underappreciated players on this team, as he always brings maximum effort and hustle on a nightly basis.