Prior to this season, not many knew the name Tanner Fritz. How did he do in his first NHL season with the New York Islanders?
Playing with the Sound Tigers, Fritz was fourth in the AHL scoring race with 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 29 games at the time of the recall. Fritz made his NHL debut against the Boston Bruins the following day but it took the 26-year-old awhile to get adjusted to the NHL level.
Fritz, who played four seasons at Ohio State University and was captain in his senior year, went undrafted and started his professional career in the 2015-16 season with the Missouri Mavericks, the Islanders’ ECHL affiliate at the time.
It’s safe to say his first professional season was a success. He put 33 points (10 goals, 23 assists) on the board in 43 ECHL games and an additional 12 (two goals, 10 assists) in 19 games regular-season games with Bridgeport.
He also chipped in with two assists in three playoff games with the Sound Tigers.
The next season, Fritz was one of the best players down in Bridgeport, finishing the season with 42 points (19 goals, 23 assists) in 63 games. On March 29th, 2017, the Grande Prairie, Alberta native’s efforts were rewarded as he signed his first two-way deal, a two-year contract with the Islanders.
In and out of the lineup and up and down from Bridgeport, it took Fritz 14 games but on February 19th he recorded his first NHL point, a goal against the Minnesota Wild. From that point on Fritz never looked back and turned out be a solid bottom-six forward who can play center and right wing.
In his first NHL season, Fritz played 34 games with the Islanders and recorded three goals and four assists over that span. He moved up and down the lineup going from the top-line to a healthy scratch but spent most his time on the third-line with Brock Nelson and Andrew Ladd.
Final grade: B-
If you call those first 13 games an adjustment period and you take them out of the equation, Fritz had a pretty good season.
Starting with the game in which he recorded his first NHL point/goal, Fritz’s three goals and seven points in 21 games aren’t too bad for a third-liner. For reference, here’s how his normal linemates played over their final 21 games of the season: three goals and eight points for Ladd, five goals and 10 points for Nelson.