This coming November marks the twenty year anniversary of one of the most disputed trades in Dodger history. On November 19, 1993 LA dealt seldom used pitcher Pedro Martinez to the Montreal Expos in exchange for a left-handed hitting All Star second baseman named Delino DeShields. Just three years later, DeShields was allowed to walk away as a free agent, while Martinez went on to become one of the best starting pitchers of his generation and a future Hall of Famer.
The similarities to this summer’s Jonathan Bernier trade, although not exactly the same, are strikingly similar.
Bernier, like Martinez two decades prior, didn’t figure into the Los Angeles sports landscape moving forward. In the summer of 2012 the writing was already on the wall – if not in the playoffs, then clearly after Jonathan Quick signed a 10-year contract extension – Bernier was going to be traded.
Regardless of what Martinez ended up doing once he left Chavez Ravine, the trade for DeShields made logical sense at the time.
So does the Bernier trade.
LA’s baseball team flipped a seldom used asset to fill a glaring weakness in their line-up. On paper, they acquired exactly what they needed – a left handed leadoff hitter. More importantly, the Dodgers received back an everyday player when they shipped a reliever from their bullpen up to Canada.
Here, Kings GM Dean Lombardi moved a seldom used back-up goalie for an everyday player in Matt Frattin.
Sure, like Martinez, Bernier may go on to become an elite player, maybe even the best at his position. It doesn’t matter though.
Regardless of Berneir’s ultimate ceiling, the reality is he was probably only going to play around 10 games a year backing up Quick. Thus, in theory, the Kings have bettered themselves by picking up somebody who should contribute more over the course of a full 82-game season.
Yet, less than 24 hours after the trade went down in late June, Frattin was already facing the key question that still lingers heading into training camp later this month – is he better suited for the left or right side?
After Dustin Brown, the Kings have a gaping hole at left wing and it was hoped by many that Frattin may be the guy to help.
At the very least, it now appears Frattin is starting to settle into his new life. He’s relocated to Southern California, been hanging out with a few of his new teammates and is already training at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.
“I’ve been here for about a week and a half, two weeks almost now,” he told MayorsManor. “I’m definitely excited…Ever since I was traded, I had phone calls from the players. They found a way to reach out to me and just invite me to the team with a warm welcome, which is awesome.”
Since arriving in town, Frattin says it’s been guys like Jeff Carter, Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll who have been the most instrumental in helping him adjust to a myriad of a new surroundings – both on and off the ice.
In Greene, he at least has one thing in common, both are products of the University of North Dakota. However, they were never on campus at the same time, with Frattin arriving two years after the Kings defenseman had already turned pro.
“I never met him until I got down here,” Frattin said of Greene. “But I know a couple of his buddies and through the grapevine I had heard he’s a great guy and he’s definitely been all that so far.”
Still in the early days of their new friendship, Frattin hasn’t been brought up to speed just yet on the nickname Greene picked up back in his college days. So, maybe that will come a little later.
In Stoll and Carter, Frattin has been getting to know two of his potential linemates. For example, if he ends up on the third line, Stoll would be his likely center.
“He’s a great guy, great personality,” Frattin said of Stoll. “If you can’t get along with him, I don’t know what’s going on.”
Of course, if the 25-year old forward is instead slotted in as the second line left wing, Carter would almost surely be on the opposite side.
“Anybody could be your linemate. Injuries are a part of the game,” remarked Frattin. “If a guy goes down, somebody’s got to fill that spot. With the young guys here that we have, there is definitely a lot of depth in the organization which is really good to see.”
Fine, but what about the idea of playing with Carter?
“He’s got a quick, quick release and he gets it off quick and hits the net,” explained Frattin. “That’s probably the biggest thing. (Similar to) Phil Kessel, who I played with the past two years, he’s got an absolute bomb. Definitely Carter’s got a great shot too.”
Left side, right side, third line, second line, we’re pretty much right back to where we were minutes after the trade was announced. What type of an impact can Frattin make with the Kings?
In his brief NHL career with Toronto, playing about half-a-season each of the past two years, he scored 15 goals over a total of 82 regular season games.
“I played left wing a little bit with Toronto,” Frattin shared once again. “They [the Kings] kind of like me over there, too. I’m pretty versatile. I feel like I can play on the top-two lines and I can also play the bottom-two lines. The biggest thing for me is to play with speed and be physical, open up space for my line mates and create chances.”
Regardless of where coach Darryl Sutter ultimately decides to play him, Frattin says he doesn’t have any real concerns as summer draws to a close.
“I came here a month early, so I’m definitely getting in my comfort zone and I’m really excited for training camp to start.”
He’s also open to the idea of a more creative nickname.
“They call me Fratts, just the last name, kind of cut off. That’s all I got,” he said with a smirk. “I’m sure somebody will think of something.”
For a team desperate to generate more offense from the left side, Sutter is probably just hoping to call him productive.
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No matter where he ends up in the lineup, I’m curiously excited to see him play.
Is it October yet?
I see no parallel between this trade and the Martinez trade. The Dodgers didn’t have to trade Martinez, but the Kings really had no choice with Bernier. If Bernier goes on to be an all star in Toronto, there will be no regrets since we have Conn Smythe as our goalie. The Dodgers would have continued to regret trading Martinez even if DeShields had played well. It was a horrible trade and I’m still in awe over how they gave him away.
As for Frattin, you can’t compare him to Delino DeShields. If anything the Kings will (and I believe they will) experience his upside. Deshields best days were obviously coming to a close when the Dodgers traded for him.
I’m looking for Frattin to be a huge plus this season and I think he will surprise a lot of fans who think we didn’t do well in this trade.