The Winnipeg Jets picked up a heck of a hockey player in Michael Frolik.
In what I thought was an otherwise underwhelming summer for Kevin Cheveldayoff, he managed to make what I instantly considered to be his best transaction yet in picking up Frolik from the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks for draft picks. The two goals he scored last night in Edmonton, including the game winner, was certainly a heck of debut, but he didn't need to score for me to be happy with his acquisition. But who exactly is Michael Frolik? And why did fans in Chicago adorn him with the nickname "Taters"? Find out below after you study his glorious stat-pack.
#67 / Right Wing / Winnipeg Jets
Feb 17, 1988
|Season||GP||TOI/60||PTS/60||Corsi Rel QoC
||On-Ice Sht %
|2013||45||9.84||1.36||0.088 (10)||5.7 (7)||8.68||909||995||50.7||54.3|
|2012||63||11.35||1.17||0.783 (6)||-3.8 (9)||5.57||914||970||44.6||49.5|
"Here is the logic behind the name: Frolik > Leeks > Potatoes > Taters. It’s not brilliant but it’s fun to scream "Way to go, Taters!" at a hockey game." - Greg Boysen
"He was a top 6 forward in Florida, but any of us could have done that then. His main initial value for the Blackhawks was in not being Jack Skille, the guy he was traded for. He showed up when the Hawks were getting clobbered with injuries, and they had to deplete the roster after winning the Cup. But when he got here, and everyone saw his shot selection, it became apparent pretty quickly that he was never getting 20 goals in a season as a Blackhawk.But he bought into Joel Quenneville's defensve system, and he and Marcus Kruger formed the top pair of forwards on the penalty kill. The only reason he's now a Jet is because with the cap dropping, he became a luxury item. The Hawks can get Ben Smith to skate on the fourth line and kill penalties for about 1/3 of what Frolik makes." - Fork
"Where the Hawks are going to miss Frolik the most is on the penalty kill. He formed one of the best PK forward [tandems] with Marcus Kruger this past season. Frolik was one of the main reasons Chicago gave up a league low 18 power play goals in the regular season. The PK success carried over into the playoffs as Taters and the Blackhawks killed off 90.8% of the power play chances." - GB
"He usually skated with Marcus Kruger and whoever else was available - whether it be Dave Bolland, Brandon Bollig, or Gorilla Salad (Dan Carcillo), They got a lot of defensive zone starts, but the forwards all had strong transition games, and the third pair that skated with them was Nick Leddy with either Michal Roszival or Sheldon Brookbank. Leddy would have been a top 4 on pretty much any other team in the NHL. The Hawks were ridiculously deep last season (and still are), and that's why a parade went past my office in June. In fact, that depth was a big reason why Frolik was on the fourth line." - F
"Once Frolik came to Chicago and realized he was not brought in to score goals, he accepted his role as a bottom six forward and excelled at it. Taters is a really good defensive forward. He may not help create a lot of goals for the Jets, but he will prevent their opponents from quality scoring chances." - GB
"Skating with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad (or Marian Hossa) is pretty easy. Don't get whistled for being offside, get open near the net, and have your blade on the ice. Toews pretty much takes it from there. He managed to knock in a couple pretty easy goals on that line by doing just that.I think a 3rd line role in Winnipeg would be a good spot for him, especially since he now carries the reputation of being an outstanding penalty killer. I don't know if you want to skate him heavy 5v5 along with all those special teams minutes - it's better to keep your top killers fresh. But if there are injuries or anything, he can slide up and wouldn't hurt the team." - F
"Frolik seems to step his game when it matters the most. He had the exact same numbers (3 G, 7A) in 23 playoff games as he did in 45 regular season games. He became the first player in NHL history to score 2 playoff goals via penalty shot in Detroit [earlier] this year. Everyone remembers when he literally broke Cory Schneider with his first one back in 2011. He had the primary assist on Dave Bolland’s Stanley Cup winning goal versus the Bruins. So if the Jets can reach the post season this year, Frolik will be one of the key role players for them." - GB
"Overall, you're getting a guy who won't get outworked, and has shown a willingness to accept whatever role any coach gives him. He's going to be a really nice asset for the Jets." - F
"I just hope the staff in Winnipeg are not hoping and/or relying on Frolik returning to his 21 goal a year form. If they use him correctly and in the areas where he excels, he will be a valuable player who has no problem doing the dirty worked needed in order to win." - GB
Those are some pretty glowing endorsements for Taters. Obviously, he left their squad on a high note with a championship ring, but it sure sounds like Chicago fans were pretty enamored with Frolik. I will totally give Chevy credit where it's due here, as picking up a quality NHLer for a pair of mid-round picks is exactly the type of deal that I've been ragging on him to make. And I won't even hold it against Taters that he's best friends with Ondrej Pavelec.
While he may not keep up with his 164-goal pace, it certainly appears that he won't struggle to chip in offensively. And if he can do that while maintaining his solid defensive play in a bottom-6 that certainly needs help, I think he could be a very important player for the Jets going forward. Now, if only we could keep him away from James Wright...