BRAMPTON, Ont. – Left winger Derek Froats is set to make his Brampton Battalion debut when the Ontario Hockey League team hosts the Belleville Bulls at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Froats, 19, was acquired in a trade Monday with the Kingston Frontenacs in exchange for left winger Adam Lloyd. The deal was made one day before the OHL trade deadline.
“It was tough leaving Kingston after being there for three years,” said Froats. “But it’s exciting, and I’m really happy to be here.”
Stan Butler, Battalion director of hockey operations and head coach, seemed equally pleased.
“He’s another older forward who brings experience to our lineup,” Butler said of Froats. “Looking at it twofold, he adds a lot to our team this year and is a solid candidate for an overage spot next year.”
The Battalion, which hosts Belleville before visiting the Oshawa Generals at 7:35 p.m. Friday, boasts a won-lost-extended record of 23-10-7 for 53 points, first in the Central Division.
“It’s been unbelievable so far,” said Froats. “It feels great to be on a winning team where everything has been going well, and to be a part of this and hopefully make a run at something this year would be amazing.”
A third-round pick by Kingston in the 2008 OHL Priority Selection, Froats has three goals and one assist for four points in 20 games this season. In 94 games over two-plus seasons with Kingston, he scored 21 goals and contributed 11 assists for 32 points while accumulating 126 penalties minutes. He has registered seven assists in 12 playoff games.
“I’m an energy guy who plays a physical game,” noted Froats. “I fight when I have to and provide the team with leadership and try to pot in a few pucks.
“I’m a pretty vocal kid. It takes me a little bit to get loose with the boys, but after that I don’t mind standing up and talking in front of the room.”
Froats, a six-foot, 180-pound resident of Chesterville, Ont., has been reunited with longtime friend Alex O’Neil and former minor hockey teammate Sam Carrick.
“O’Neil is my best friend from back home, and I played minor hockey with Carrick for two years with the Toronto Red Wings.”
For the second consecutive year, Battalion practice Tuesday was devoted to assisting the National Hockey League prepare for the skills competition which takes place in connection with the NHL All-Star Game. The festivities are scheduled Jan. 26-29 at Ottawa.
“Brendan Shanahan phoned again this year and asked if we could be the team to iron out some kinks for them, and I think the kids really enjoyed it,” said Butler.
Shanahan, the NHL’s vice-president for player safety, and Rob Blake were on hand to run the skills competition and receive feedback from the players. Blake works with Shanahan in the NHL’s hockey operations department.
The Troops were split into two squads under assistant coaches Ryan Oulahen and Jason Ward.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Froats. “It was a good first day for me and a good day to kind of let loose, have some fun and meet the boys.”