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Player Evaluation: Michael Frolik

  By Trev

Once Ton and I started getting to the lower paying players on the team, the articles seem to get a tad more difficult to write. Why? Well anybody who has watched Chicago hockey the last 3 years could write a somewhat substantial article on Kane and Toews. But, it’s the lesser “quality” guys who obviously don’t get as much attention that forces you to have to figure out what they actually bring to a team (for some of these guys it’s easier than others) like the Blackhawks. One player who falls into this "enigma" category though, is Michael Frolik.

There is no doubt in my mind that Frolik possesses NHL talent. He’s already proven it in his early NHL career playing for the Florida Blackhawks Panthers. His first two seasons in the league saw Frolik put up point totals of 45 and 43 respectively. This was also playing along the likes of Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton; one a 2nd line center at best, the other one of the better power forwards in today’s NHL (though Horton missed about 30+ games between those two seasons). While 40+ points is nothing to brag about, these are considered successful seasons in the NHL at the ages of 21 and 22 on a team like the Panthers. Then, after a somewhat productive half of a season, Frolik was traded to the Blackhawks for the ever so talented (sarcasm) Jack Skille. Frolik took a while to get his motor moving, but in the playoff series against the Canucks, he started to show signs of promise with 5 points in 7 games before the Hawks were eliminated (thanks a lot Campoli).

Last season though was quite the roller coaster ride for Frolik. You know the Dragon roller coaster that is at all the town fairs that just stays on the ground and goes around in a circle. Yeah, that kind of a “roller coaster” season. Frolik's game just never took off, and after playing decent minutes at the beginning of the season with no results he eventually was dropped to the 4th line and played sparingly while Viktor Stalberg played top line minutes. Come playoff time though, while Stalberg was stuck on his Dragon style roller coaster, Frolik ended up being given more minutes and actually produced in the 4 games he was dressed in.

Now, this next portion of this article is going to be my biased opinion as I think Frolik is better than he gets credit for. I no doubt agree that he was given every chance to perform but statistically did not rise to the occasion. Frolik was caught in a scoring slump that saw him get many chances but unfortunately could not capitalize. But, that still is not a reason to write him off. Frolik possesses great hockey sense and has a nose for the net. While he didn’t score as much, he still was able to get himself in position to get those chances, something some hockey players can’t even do right. Frolik has a long stride and good knee bend that, like Martin Havlat, gives him good boost of speed and makes him tough to knock off the puck. His stick skills are solid and he also protects the puck well. Frolik also isn’t afraid to go to the dirty area’s on the ice and grind it out.

Now, Frolik isn’t a bottom 6 player like he was last season. He’s not going to be much help for a team on the 4th line playing 8-10 minutes a night. He’s not your energy forward like a Hayes, Burish, Fraser or Shaw would be. With his style of play, he needs to get minutes and play with other talented guys in order for him to play to the best of his ability. Being centered on a line with Mayers and Hayes is not beneficial to him, or the team. Frolik has the talent, now it’s whether or not he gets the opportunity on the top 6 for him to prove to everyone he is as talented as his he has shown signs of in the past. After a season like last years, there is no doubt in my mind he comes back this season hungry to prove that he isn’t just a 4th line player. I'm going to base my prediction that Frolik comes back and makes his way back up on the top 6 at some point in the season.

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