To the casual hockey fan, the name Zach Trotman probably doesn’t ring a bell. How much could a hardcore fan of the sport tell you about Trotman? Maybe that he plays for a certain team that dons black and gold. And…that’s about it.
However, the Carmel, Indiana native and former seventh round pick out of Lake Superior State University will likely play to the right of Bruins captain and future first ballot Hall of Fame candidate Zdeno Chara (assuming his injury sustained against the New York Rangers will not sideline the Slovakian superstar). Crucial to the Bruins’ success, especially on a blue line that appears weak at the moment, Trotman could emerge as a potential star this season.
So how can someone with only five points, including one goal, in 27 games last season, be consider one of the most important players on roster? Is this author crazy???
Well, yes and no. Out of the eight defenseman on the Bruins who played more than 300 this past campaign, Trotman ranked iCorsi/60, iFenwick/60, and A/60. According to Nick Goss of NESN, the Bruins had a .956 save percentage with him on the ice over that 10-game span. With Trotman on the ice, the Bruins controlled 53.52 percent of even strength shot attempts. When Trotman was on the ice, the Bruins had 40 more scoring chances than their opponents. Pretty impressive numbers, especially for a former seventh round draft pick and rather unheralded depth defenseman.
An NHL draft afterthought, Trotman was selected long past the time fans tune out of the draft, and even the best of beat writers and draft analysts start to struggle with knowledge of prospects. Trotman scored 11 goals in his senior season, and followed up a strong end to his collegiate career with eye-opening AHL campaigns with the Providence “Baby” Bruins. After notching 24 points and a +13 rating in 53 games in the 2013-2014 slate, Trotman entered training camp as a dark horse candidate to see time in Boston. When injuries struck, depleting the team’s roster, Trotman had his chance to shine. Man, did he ever do that.
With ample size (6’3″, 219 lbs), Trotman can handle the NHL physically. He has the perfect body for a defenseman, being large enough to challenge smaller forwards while not being overly lanky. He moves the puck well, exiting the zone with crisp passes that propel counter attacks. Rarely caught out of position, Trotman plays an incredibly intelligent game.
During the last 10 contests of last season, head coach Claude Julien instilled the confidence in the Trotman to slot him onto the first line, battling the opposition’s best goalscorers on a nightly basis. The Chara-Trotman combo proved to be incredibly effective. Playing Robin to Chara’s mighty role as Batman (crowd begins to boo as hockey players are compared to comic book characters), Slovakia’s all time greatest hockey player posted better numbers per 60 minutes across the board when playing with Trotman, including but limited to CorsiFor and CorsiAgainst. Chara’s GF% (goals for percentage) skyrockets from 45.7% without Trotman to 75% when playing alongside Trotman and his GA/60 (goals against per sixty minutes) dwindles from 2.41 to a miniscule 0.44 . Like peanut butter and jelly (crowd is up in arms as said players are now paralleled with a favorite lunch time snack), these two are better together.
With Dennis Seidenberg sidelined for eight weeks and Chara being evaluated after an upper body during a preseason contest versus the New York Rangers, Trotman may see substantial minutes. In order to ensure that he continues to see when Seidenberg (and potentially Chara, depending on the extent of his injury), Trotman needs to play his very best.
Where do YOU think Zach Trotman will fit in the Bruins’ lineup? Leave a comment!
Cam Kerry covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. He can be found on Twitter (@camkerryPRS).