TORONTO – Matt Frattin isn't certain that he'll be ready to start training camp.
The 24-year-old signed a two-year deal ($850,000 per season) with the Leafs on July 1, but remains on the mend from a torn meniscus in his left knee. With a 4-6 month recovery window – he suffered the injury in late May – Frattin's status for the mid-September training camp hangs somewhat in doubt.
"It's an injury that needs time to heal," he told TSN.ca from his home in Edmonton on Tuesday afternoon.
Frattin suffered the ailment in the most untimely and unusual of circumstances.
He and the Marlies were on the verge of burying the Oklahoma City Barons for the Western Conference championship, a berth in the Calder Cup Final on the line. Racing around Barons defenceman Dylan Yeo with the Oklahoma City net empty in the final minute of regulation, Frattin lost his balance and crashed heavily into the goal, the puck trickling in alongside. It was his second marker of the game and 10th of the playoffs (13 games), sealing the series in five games for the Marlies.
"I thought it was going to be an innocent play," Frattin recalled, "just get up and go celebrate with the guys, but as soon as I hit that net the whole thing just twisted on me.
"I thought the net was going to come off," he continued, "[but] the net didn't move at all and both my knees went in and my top knee just twisted and right from there I knew something was wrong."
Frattin quickly informed head coach Dallas Eakins that "I did something bad to my knee" and veered straight for the dressing room, unable to join in the impending Ricoh Coliseum celebration. "It was definitely bad timing going into the Finals," he said, "but that's part of the game I guess."
Following the surgery, doctors told Frattin that his timetable for return would ultimately depend on how his body responded, as early as four months (September) but potentially as long as six (November).
"It's just how your body heals and that's probably the biggest thing," Frattin explained.
Engaged in "range of motion" therapy on the knee at the moment – he'll begin riding the bike in the coming weeks – Frattin is slated to visit with the surgeon who performed his surgery in Toronto next week. "Around then we'll know what kind of progress I've been making, but so far so good," he said.
Pleased with his postseason performance, upside (eight goals, 15 points in 56 games as a rookie), and NHL readiness (likely in a third-line role next season), the Leafs inked Frattin to a two-year, one-way deal ($1.7 million total) this past Sunday, locking in a player who Brian Burke described as a "big part of the future".
"It just shows the confidence they have in myself," he said, noting his desire for the one-way deal. "I just got to go out there and show 'em when I get the chance."
The earlier the better, he hopes.