Pittsburgh's Trocheck waiting for his chance
Don't forget about Vincent Trocheck.
While his Pittsburgh contemporaries — Brandon Saad and J.T. Miller already are in the NHL and goaltender John Gibson saw his profile soar at the recent World Junior Championship — have received more of the recent attention, the Upper St. Clair native intends on being in the NHL next season.
“That's my aim,” Trocheck said. “That's what I'm going to work hard for during the summer.”
Trocheck was taken in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers. A very good player throughout his Ontario Hockey League career, Trocheck was a force this season.
He was recently awarded the Red Tilson Trophy, given annually to the OHL's finest player, as voted on by media that covers junior hockey.
Trocheck, despite a mid-season trade that sent him from Saginaw to Plymouth, led the OHL in scoring with 109 points. He scored 50 goals and led the OHL with a plus-49 mark.
Enjoying a truly dominant season could pay dividends for Trocheck.
“I think it was big for me to have this kind of a season because of where I stand in the Florida system,” Trocheck said. “It's a deep prospect pool in Florida. I was floating around the middle of it before the season. I think this season put me on the radar more and showed Florida the kind of player I can be.”
The past week represented another series of historical accomplishments for three of the four Pittsburgh-area players who were drafted in the top 64 selections in 2011. Trocheck was given the Red Tilson Trophy and Saad, who has become a dynamic player for the Chicago Blackhawks, became the first Pittsburgh-area player to be nominated for the Calder Trophy (NHL Rookie of the Year). Gibson, meanwhile, has starred at the World Championship in Finland.
Trocheck insists he doesn't get frustrated that Saad and Miller already have been given cracks at the NHL and that Gibson has garnered plenty of attention.
“Not at all,” he said. “It's awesome seeing those guys play in the NHL. J.T. and I grew up playing together. Brandon and I are real close. I love seeing all these guys from Pittsburgh doing so well.”
There is little question that the rebuilding Panthers have plans for Trocheck.
“He is one of our prospects who has matured and developed through hard work and dedication since being drafted,” Panthers VP/GM Dale Tallon said.
Trocheck appeared to turn the corner in his development in January when he was nearly flawless while playing the role of third-line center in the United States' gold medal run at the World Junior Championship. He consistently shut down other nations' finest players and capped off the gold medal with an empty-netter against Sweden in a 3-1 win.
“Unbelievable experience,” Trocheck said. “I played on that team with a lot of guys I've been playing with all my life, so that made it even better.”
Trocheck craves the opportunity to play under NHL pressure, but he's being patient. He knows his time is coming.
“I really do believe that,” he said. “And I'm going to work my butt off to make sure it happens.”