Michael Frolik has been a rock for the Calgary Flames this season. Since picking him up in free agency, he’s come exactly as advertised: a defensively-sound forward who can drive possession, kill penalties, and score. Even while the team was floundering, he himself never was.
Except his road trip is over, as he’s now headed back to Calgary to see the team doctors. He’s out indefinitely thanks to a shoulder injury sustained in the second period against the Nashville Predators.
Frolik played a 29-second shift in the third period before it was decided his night was officially over – and now, that 29-second shift may be the last we see of him for some time.
What comes next?
With Lance Bouma nearing a return (although he’s not expected to play this road trip), the Flames shouldn’t have to send anybody down, assuming Frolik is placed on the injury reserve. That means Markus Granlund, the only waiver-exempt player on the Flames, should be safe, as will be a handful of other candidates on the roster.
As for the present-day lineup, the Flames are taking the easiest approach possible (and the correct one, for that matter) by slotting Josh Jooris in Frolik’s spot on Mikael Backlund’s wing. Frolik played on the right; Jooris plays on the right. It’s a fit, particularly as Jooris is best suited for a supportive, high-possession role: not as good as Frolik, but not as major a downgrade if Brandon Bollig were to draw back in.
This is also be Jooris’ chance to earn his way into taking a regular shift again. He hasn’t played since Nov. 28, when he took 11 shifts against the San Jose Sharks. Jooris has missed 10 games as a healthy scratch now, including this most recent stretch of six straight.
As for when Bouma returns to the lineup – which may not be until after the Christmas break – it could be Micheal Ferland’s spot in jeopardy. Bouma doesn’t play the right, so really, the only player who should threaten Jooris’ place in the lineup would be Frolik when he returns. Ferland, on the other hand, has seen his ice time drop as of late, and Bouma taking over his fourth line spot would be the easiest way to ease him back into the lineup, particularly as they both play a physical game.
But that’s well off into the future. For now, it appears Bollig will be the Flames’ only extra healthy forward.
Get well soon
Either way, though, Frolik’s injury is a major loss for the Flames. He’s fourth in team scoring with 16 points, and his 74 shots on net leads the Flames – and that’s all without being granted any power play time.
An already-weak penalty kill becomes that much weaker, as he’s one of its leaders – not only in ice time, but in actually generating shots as well.
And Backlund just lost his perfect linemate, too. Hopefully Jooris is able to meet expectations as an adequate replacement, but the lineup will always be stronger with Frolik in rather than out.