Flames Trade Targets: Michael Frolik

 

 

Although the Flames have a lot of needs at the moment, they also don’t have a lot of assets with which to barter heading into the deadline. Forget the buyers versus sellers debate for now, because Calgary doesn’t fit neatly into either category – the truth is it’s difficult for the team to do either given their position in the standings and bevy of injuries.

The Fickle Five Percent

That said, the one target who may be a good fit right now is the Hawks Michael Frolik. I mentioned in a bit about Mikael Backlund that even established forwards can see their stocks falls due to extended cold streaks. 

Frolik is a recent exmaple.

A former 10th overall pick of the Florida Panther, Frolik made the NHL straight from junior as a 20-year old a put up 21g-24a-45 points in his rookie year back in 08-09. Only Horton, Weiss, Stillman and Booth scored as much or more than Frolik for the Panthers that year. The kid managed his 21 goals on 158 shots for a 13.3 shooting percentage. Keep that number in mind.

He matched his rookie output in his sophomore season, scoring 21-22-43. He scored 21 again despite increasing his shot volume to 219 from 158. His resultant shooting percentage was only 9.6% the second time around. 

For whatever reason, it has continued to fall ever since. Frolik scored 55 goals in just 97 games in junior, but pucks have stopped going in for the guy at the pro level. In his third season, Frolik scored just eight goals on 158 shots for Florida (5.1%) before being moved to Chicago later in the year. Incredibly, his SH% slid into Cory Sarich territory as a Blackhawk (3.2%) that season and has hovered around 5% over another 100 shots this year.

So over his first two seasons, Frolik scored 42 goals on 377 shots for a combined SH% of 11.1. Since then, he’s gathered a mere 16 goals over his last 351 shots on net (4.6%). Th Sarich comparison was only partly in jest – he has a 2.5% career shooting average, but is at 5% over the last two years.

So either Frolik has the same shooting accuracy as a defensive defenseman who takes shots from 60-feet out and has a total of 20 goals over the course of his entire career, or this is just an extended rough patch.

That seems completely counter-intuitive because 350 shots sounds like a lot. It really isn’t though, as discussed in this Driving Play post – it can actually take several thousand shots to truly separate luck from skill.

If you don’t go for the abstract math stuff, consider that Frolik was a 20+ goal scorer over his first 350+ shots in the league – so one has to wonder which "segment" of shots is more indicative of the player’s true skill: if Frolik is really a 5% SH% forward, then he really is of limited utility. If he’s closer to 10-11%, though, then he’s a 23-year old 20+ goal man getting run down by bad luck.

Check Under the Hood

The luck stuff is only part of the reason Frolik would be a worthwhile gamble for Calgary. "Buy low" is a good strategy for both players and stocks, but it makes sense to look at the fundamentals as well. Always check under the hood, no matter how good the deal seems, as it were.

The news i good here as well. Frolik has been a positive possession player since he broke into the league. In Florida he had the third best corsi rate on the team in his rookie season behind David Booth and Stephen Weiss. He was second behind only Booth as a sophomore and was amongst the team leaders again the next season before before being dealt to Chicago.

As a Blackhawk, Frolik has been buried by Quenneville in a defense first role, which is why his shot rate has sunk this year. Amongst regular Chicago forwards, only Dave Bolland, Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg have faced tougher competition in aggregate. In addition, only Bolland has a tougher zone start ratio (40.9%). Even in this circumstances, his possession rate is better than even (_1.59/60).

Those circumstances have acted to further suppress Frolik’s output, as has an on-ice shooting percentage of 5.84% (a team low). No regular NHLer is bad enough to deserve that sort of SH%, so again…Frolik is rolling snake-eyes, but this time it’s in terms of both the bounces and his coach’s decision making.

Quenneville in only human though, so he can’t escape the reality that pucks don’t seem to go in when Frolik is on the ice. As mentioned, perceptions of forwards inevitably sink during an extended cold streak. Even if it has a lot to do with stuff outside of their control.

A Good Fit

Finally, the reason this trade is possible is the Flames actually have a few expendable pieces that might be of use to Chicago. Cory Sarich and Scott Hannan should both be made available by the Flames at the deadline since they are each pending UFA’s and probably not part of the team’s plans past this year. The Hawks have struggled a great deal with their defensive play and blueline depth this season, so either one of Sarich or Hannan could be useful for them. And because Frolik has seemingly fallen out of favor with the organization, they may be looking to ditch his contract which costs 2.33M in cap space and runs until 2014.

This way, the Hawks get something they need in exchange for an asset they really don’t want any more. The Flames, in contrast, get a young guy who is already a veteran, can move the play north and has a lot of upside if his percentages ever emerge from the dark side of the moon.

    • I’ve seen no real evidence that Bowman is particularly crafty at this point. It could be he’s aware of this stuff (which is why he picked up Frolik in the first place). Anyways the coach he has isn’t playing the guy so it may not overly matter that much.

      • RexLibris

        Hey Kent, I was wondering if you had any opinion on the Heat signing Jessiman to an AHL contract.

        I looked him up and it looks like his AHL totals are 406 go 181 pts for a .45 ppg average, and an AHL career total of +7.

        I know he’s not Flames property, but this seems like the Heat are trying to find another Kolanos.

  • Thanks for the post Kent, I can only hope there will be a couple more re: trade targets. I agree when you say that the trade cupboard is pretty much bare.

    Frolik would definitely be a good choice. IIRC, he plays center, correct? Could be a good addition at the deadline, especially with a bunch of our regulars out with injuries. We could send Horak back down to Abbottsford to get some better ice time or even Kolanos (hasn’t been terrible, but nothing special), move Cammy back to LW and keep Mats on the 4th line.

    Though, I don’t much like the idea of Sarich playing us 4 times a year and crushing Iginla into the board as much as possible. We could count on him for a stupid penalty or two per game though!

  • First Name Unidentified

    Good writeup Kent! Very well thought out and well reasoned. Also I like the timing of this article in that the ‘Hawks are slumping right now and may look to make a move soon. Sarich and/or Hannan will fit in nicely for their playoff run.

    Having said that, in Frolik we are again looking at a middling NHLer who amongst other 20+ or 30 goal-scorers(Stempniak, Comeau, Jokinen, Hagman, etc) will come to Calgary and turn into a measly 5-10 goal-scorer. I just don’t get it.

    I understand that we don’t have anything to offer for the likes of Nash, Roy, JVR, Ryan at the moment, but even if we did, then what’s the probability that any of those big name players will sign here and turn into an average hockey player? I say, pretty high. Is it our system? Is it the coach (a possibility)? Is it the leadership group? i just don’t get it.

    Maybe I’m just a frustrated Flames fan.

    • I know it seems like the Flames “kill offense”, but the truth is the club has had a lot of guys find their form here as well over the last few years. Daymond Langkow, Kristian Huselius and Alex Tanguay all had career years in Calgary colors. So did Rene Bourque, Mike Cammlleri and Curtis Glencross.

      Things kind of balance out in the end I think.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Kent, I agree with the examples you’ve used for the balancing act. Consider this though, Langkow had his 2 best seasons under Playfair, so did Tanguay and Huselius. Cammy had his under Keenan.
    Bourque and Glencross are only two you’ve named that had a career years under B Sutter. I also remember that under Playfair and Keenan, we were one of the best offensive teams in the league and made the playoffs. Is it not the coach? or the leadership?

    Did you hear Jimmy Playfair talk (so subtly) about a comparison b/w Doan and Iggi on the FAN? That, to me, says that there is a lot more happening in that locker room than meets the eye. Maybe folks are afraid of going up against Iggi, including the coaching staff and maybe even the GM. I don’t know…I’m just putting together a Mosaic Theory.
    Maybe our captain is the guy that needs to go.

    • CitizenFlame

      Or maybe it was just an ex-coach bitter over his treatment from the organization (probably rightfully so), and using the media to create a distraction before a game with his new team who are in a dog fight for one of the remaining playoff spots?

    • My impression from the various rumours was that Regehr had some serious issues with Iginla and the way he played. The whole thing about there being shouting matches in the locker room after devastating losses was that it was between Regehr and Iginla. Same thing with Neon Dion (you know, besides the whole sleeping with Conroy’s wife dealio).

      Management made their choice and have backed Iginla.

      I was reading the article on Puck Daddy where Jeremy Roenick endorses trading Patrick Kane… what about Karlsson/Hannan or Sarich/1st rounder for Kane? Would anyone be down for that, or am I just talking crazy?

  • T&A4Flames

    I would certainly take a chance on Frolik. I still think Brassard in CLB would be a good risk as well. He has turned things around a little in the 2nd half from what I hear and he is a vet at under 25 as well. It would take a little more in terms of youth I think to get him though.

  • I heard Chicago would like a shooter on their powerplay on the blueline. Perhaps Babchuk & Karlson for Frolick & a 3rd rounder would do the deal. The way things have been going, Calgary seems to be a place where players like Frolic get a chance & do OK. I like Frolic as a trade target. I’m sure Chicago have other defensive targets on their priority list but as we near the trade deadline, our options may become more attractive to them.

  • T&A4Flames

    @T&A4Flames – agreed. Kane isn’t going anywhere. That would be insane. And if he did, the price would be higher than what CBJ wants for Nash.

    Not really sure what’s wrong with Chicago, but I think if they had a couple more solid D it would do them wonders.

    @First Name Unidentified, Kent Wilson & Fireon Ice:

    – you can’t move Sarich or Hannan. Everyone knows you need all the D you can get for a long playoff run. *sarcasm intended*

    – I like the idea of getting Frolik, but agree that he would not be a difference maker on his own. One more piece though.

    – Problem is, the Flames don’t have the type of player who makes those around him better. Which is why I wanted Spezza the last 2 years if the team wasn’t going to rebuild.

    My only real problem with the team getting Carter, and according to George Johnson a deal was in place, but a Flame refused to waive his NTC, is that he’s a shooter and not a playmaker.

    Still, if the team is adamant to ‘win now,’ I don’t see many other options. Trade 1st rounders, whatever. Go for broke before we fall off the cliff. Just don’t stand pat.

    – re: Playfair interview – that was pure gold and just confirms my opinion that Iginla cares more about his personal situation (playing to 40, one team, scoring 600, close to Kelowna and Edmonton) than he does anything else. That comment about him not liking to practice was stunning and yet not all that surprising on the other hand.

    Ownership has chosen to make one player bigger than the team and it’s been disastrous. The Calgary Iginlas is what we really are. 5-6 more years of suffering through crap teams while watching Iginla go for 600 goals. Oh, joy.

    Just a matter of time until they stitch his face into the dressing room carpet underneath the ‘eternal light’ and paint his face at center ice.

    All the superstars we shipped out of this city and now we hand the keys to everything to him. Ownership in this city doesn’t even get close to the flak they deserve.

    This team will never again become a contender until the Iginla era is at an end.

    • CitizenFlame

      You think that making a move for Carter would be a win now move only? I suppose that entirely depends on what they give up but he is a #1 center who is only 25 years old. You would have him for another 10 years which could be either good or a noose.

      • T&A4Flames

        Carter is actually 27 which means any team picking him up is on the hook for 5.27mil (I think)until he is 37. I sure hope if we are looking at picking him up it is for more than just a ‘win now’ philosophy, otherwise, we are in BIG trouble.

        • zockey

          Carter’s last 3 years are 3,2 & 2 Mil. Although cap hit stays at 5.27.If he sores 30 or more per season, he also could be a great deal over the next several years.

          • T&A4Flames

            Oh, I totally agree. The 1st few years should, I repeat, should, be worth it. Still, there are a number of risks involved including injury history and precieved attitude issues that could not only affect his on ice performance but also that of the teams; locker room issues. All trades are risks, this is a sizable one in my opinion; high risk/reward.

    • RexLibris

      I would have to agree with just about everything you’ve said here (I don’t think they’ll stitch his face on the carpet though. Instead I think they’ll make a Bat-Signal out of it).

      So here goes:
      – agree with your take on Chicago, they need some defensive depth. I see them taking another shot at it next year and then, if it doesn’t improve they might make a move for a veteran goalie (please take Khabibulin!) or perhaps even trade Kane for a bigger defenceman like Weber. I know it seems insane, but stranger things have happened.

      – I agree that you can’t trade Sarich or Hannan. But it’s probably best, and most polite, to just leave it at that right now.

      – agree on your take on Frolik. He would be a speedier, less physical version of the Comeau addition. Not a building block, but a decent addition to a core.

      – The Flames, and honestly at least 20 other teams, could use Spezza, but the year to trade for him was either last year or the year after the new CBA if Ottawa falls flat again (I think they will, long story) and goes into a more complete rebuilding phase.

      – I don’t think it matters if Carter is a shooting centre, then play him with Tanguay and have Cammalleri play with Iginla. Move Backlund to the wing for a while and see what happens. As for the trading 1st round picks, my default is to hoard them, but if Feaster doesn’t do any major moves to improve the team and get them above the 1st round cannon fodder position (which isn’t to say that they wouldn’t win a first round series) then one has to question whether he is trying to go in two directions at the same time. There’s more to it than that, but I’ll try to keep it brief here.

      – I agree that ownership in the city doesn’t, from what I have heard and observed, receive as much criticism as it does in some other markets.

      Having said all that, I take it that you are not entirely happy with the run the team has been on of late.

      I’m glad Flames fans have something to cheer about. It isn’t fun, as a city full of fans, to have a team mired in underperforming mediocrity. That being said, I think you and I would agree that there was an opportunity missed this season for the Flames to make a massive leap forward in the long-term health of the franchise.

      • supra steve

        Agreed on the lost opportunity. Not sure what compromising pics. Iggy has of the ownership group, but he seems like he is here to stay, for good or bad. My belief is that he has been a great offensive threat/somewhat of a defensive liability/ and a coach killer, and that there will be no cup parade while he is a Flame. Props for how close he did help get us in ’04, but lets remember that he did not do it all alone. If he retires a Flame we lose a great deal of value, for no apparent reason. If we trade him for youth we at least have a shot at replacing him with some valuable players. Yes, it is a bit of a crap shoot, but what have we got to lose–missed playoffs 2 years running and seem to be trending downward as he ages?

        • RexLibris

          I guess what I would say is 1.) enjoy the run to the playoffs and, if it happens, a playoff run. and 2.) just be glad Feaster isn’t the one making the Iginla trade, his resume in that department is very underwhelming.

          • supra steve

            Thanks Rex. I am not as sure that Feaster would screw that trade up, but till it happens (and it appears it won’t) who can say. I have not been unhappy with his moves this year. I did wonder at the time if he couldn’t have got more for Reg, but now I’m not so sure. He cleared what, $7mil and took back very little in financial obligation and got a young NHL D-man. Even a blind dog finds a bone from time to time, but hopefully his vision is 20/20. And if not, It’s only Hockey.

  • CitizenFlame

    I think that Hannan is playing to well for the Flames to move him, especially since they want to make the playoffs.

    I think that the players in Abbotsford have shown as much as Sarich and I think that they could move him.

    I like the idea of Frolik. Had thought he was older and a free agent, but based on the writeup from Kent I would make a deal from him. Frolik for Sarich or Babchuk would be a great deal for Calgary, and might even be of help for Chicago.

    I still think that Calgary needs to do something more. I know that the big fish is Carter, but the term and the character issues are just too big for my liking. I think that we could get Roy from Buffalo for similar to what Ottawa got for Fisher last year. Give up a first round pick for a player that can play second line center, plays a 200′ game, is a playmaker, and has offensive instincts. Plus he has one more year on his contract.

    Frolik and Roy needs to be done this weekend.

    An out of the box deal would be to send Kiprusoff and 2012 first round pick to Chicago for Crawford, McNeil, 2012 first round pick, 2012 second round pick, and 2012 fouth round pick. Sort of says that you are selling and rebuilding, except that Crawford is a young NHL goaltender who maybe gets his game back and could still help Calgary get into the playoffs.

    • T&A4Flames

      I like the return, but if that were to happen, gauranteed the Flames do not make the palyoffs this year. The message sent would be “we’re giving up” and that message would do more damage than losing Kipper itself. That said, for those that prefer the ‘rebuild’ idea, this would be fantastic. I can’t see it ever happening though; that is a lot to give up.

      • CitizenFlame

        Agree. We were so close to embracing a deal like that. A few bad bounces, a few off the post & in the net but Kipper still playing the way he has, totally realistic. But no way that happens now. If we did, Iggy Joker & Cammi & Tanguay would all be advising Feaster they are waiving their NTC.

        Wolf: Dont you think if this team keeps finding ways to get points from every game in the next 3-4 weeks, playoffs are attainable & in reality our big trade deadline moves will be coming from our injury reserve with players like Smith, Glencross, Backlund & Stempniak being added for free? All of these guys would be considered important trade deadline pieces for any other team. I say no major moves. Sarich & Babchuk can be moved & if we can get a 2nd for Stempniak yet, I’d do that deal. I like the fact that kids like Brodie, Smith, Horak, Byron, Bouma are getting 20+ playoff type intense games. Thats more character building than the nothing games the Superstar Oiler kids have been getting through their ELC years.
        Just another perspective that all is not lost.

  • Derzie

    We need draft picks, not big names. Teams that win build their own big names from within. Iginla and Kipper are ours. There are 30 teams all after Stanley. 16 get a closer look and only 1 wins. So are the other 29 teams failures? Not a chance. Hockey is about competing, getting better when you can, fighting your way out of bad spots, being loyal to your fan base and your teammates. Throwing Iginla and/or Kipper under the bus to get futures or some ‘big name’ is bad business and is the very definition of disloyal. If winning is your only thing, so be it, but you have at least a 29/30 chance of being disappointed.

  • Derzie

    @Rex

    re: Carter – I don’t think it matters a lot, just my only concern from a pure hockey look at it. Agree with what you say. Cammi and Tangs can make plays. We may even get Huselius back in the fold.

    re: the run – incredible goaltending and a ridiculous amount of posts coupled with their rivals being in slumps. It will even out.

    I fit doesn’t and they go get in (a possibility), we’re most likely 1st round fodder.

    Could Kipper steal a series? Two? Possible, but miracle runs have never occured to the same team twice, at least not within 8 years.

    To sum it up, we’re delaying the inevitable. Which I’m against, but fine,if so, then go for it with gusto, don’t stay stuck in the middle.

    • RexLibris

      I’m curious then to hear your opinion on what other teams have done to rebuild (not necessarily Edmonton, I know most Flames fans feel that Edmonton is just perpetually rebuilding, but that’s a debate for another day) in places like Ottawa, L.A., Chicago. Those three examples are each at different stages and all have had different levels of success, so I feel it shows that there are many different possible outcomes.

      I’ll give you my preamble about what the Flames could do next season, based on the assumption of a season of between 82 to 48 games. The Flames will have Iginla on an expiring contract, two years left of Kiprusoff, Cammalleri, and Bouwmeester, likely a re-signed Jokinen (say, 3 years) and an unmoveable (at this time) Matt Stajan. Were the Flames to hold a complete fire sale (pardon the pun) and trade away all of these assets, retaining Giordano, Tanguay, and Glencross to perhaps move at the deadline the following year, they could gather together a nearly unprecedented number of first round picks and prospects in a single season. Each one of those players could, in theory, return a first round pick, some of them would return also an elite prospect, and Iginla and Kiprusoff could return a developing roster player as well.

      Add to that a top five draft pick of their own in a year that will feature (probably) three to four high end centres/wingers and the Flames could go through the draft acquisition stage of a rebuild in a single year, whereas most other teams have taken between three and six years to accomplish the same feat.

      To anyone that says that there wouldn’t be any fans at the Saddledome because of a tanking team and poor play: I would argue that they are underestimating the passion that Calgary fans (and, truth be told, most Canadian fans) have for their team.

      As for the playoffs, I don’t think the Flames would necessarily be first round fodder, but it isn’t an enviable position.

      Worst-case scenario for this run is that it dries up the day after the trade deadline and the Flames are left holding the bag on a bunch of UFAs with no playoffs.

      Also, Kiprusoff might be able to steal one series, I doubt two though. Rinne stole one for Nashville but even he couldn’t beat Vancouver, and Calgary’s offense is tracking to be between 200 and 210 goals for on the season, fewer than any team that made the playoffs last season.

  • Derzie

    @Kevin R: read what I wrote to Rex. Basically I’m sick of being stuck in the middle. Either rebuild or to hell with the future, pour every resource into winning. You can’t do both. Not very well anyways.

  • Franko J

    I like the trade target Kent Wilson has presented here. Frolik would be a good addition in the mold of Comeau and Jones. Didn’t he get blasted from Phanuef in a world junior? (When Phanuef actually played the game honestly with effort and passion.)

    Hannan and Sarich will be free agents at the end of season, however, IMO chemistry is vital at this time of the year and right now their play is contributing to wins.

    Moving Babchuk might be difficult because he has been with Chicago twice before and I don’t think third time is the charm.
    Maybe move Babchuk for a low round pick or another 5 or 6 defenseman and flip to Chicago instead.

    If Feaster can swing a deal at the deadline or before I would like to see Brassard from CBJ, but what would it take to trade for him?

    This team needs depth at center.

  • RKD

    As a Blackhawk, Frolik has been buried by Quenneville in a defense first role, which is why his shot rate has sunk this year.

    That probably is going to change if Frolik comes to Calgary. Sutter will ask the same of him.

    Still, I think we could use him. If he starts shooting more maybe the puck will start to go for him.

  • RKD

    @Rex – The Oil will eventually have success, of that I have no doubt. I don’t buy into the perpetual rebuild argument.

    However, I think St. Louis and Ottawa have demonstrated that you can do a far faster rebuild with great success by not ditching all the vets, only key pieces at key times.

    In the end, it comes down to solid management. Just like Holmgren did well in the Carter and Richards trades. It’s all about timing.

    People argue Iginla was a 40+ goal scorer last year and 6th in scoring. This year they argue he’s worth more to the team and we wouldn’t get equal value back vs keeping him. Exactly, should’ve struck while the iron was hot. Again,timing. Dealing from a position of strength seem sto be largely forgotten these days.

    And that is the difference between Holmgren moving Carter and Howson moving Carter. Timing/position of strength.

    So I would move Kipper and Iginla and work with the rest, moving them over time as younger guys come in.

    But,it’s all moot. Won’t happen this season or next. After that, well, Iginla will be 36, Tanguay 33 or 34, Joker 35. Doesn’t look like a happy ending.

    If you look at Iggy’s scoring the last few years, that 43 goal season is starting to seem like an anomaly.

    When I advocated moving him after his 50 goal season Giroux was one of the central pieces I wanted. Philly was stacked at center and needed a winger. We obviously would’ve gotten a lot more than just Giroux, but imagine if you made that trade just 1 for 1. People would’ve run the GM out of town – then. Now, even 1 for 1 we would’ve won that trade.

    Like I said, it’s good scouting, proper development, smart managing, team before individual player, timing and having the cajones to do what’s right.