13Michael Frolik

FlamesNation Player Evaluation: Michael Frolik

When the Calgary Flames signed Michael Frolik two summers ago, fans had reason to be excited for what Frolik could bring. Not only was he a proven winner with a Stanley Cup ring from his time with Chicago, but he brought with him a skill set the Flames desperately needed. Frolik is by many standards an ideal type of player you want on your team now.

Not only does he provide a value at 5v5, but his impact on the penalty kill is a necessary value add that many teams would covet. This year he spent a lot of time with Mikael Backlund (as he did last season) and Matthew Tkachuk, playing on one of the league’s best lines in the 3M line, and was fantastic for what he offers.

2016-17 season summary

There was a real underlying story to Frolik’s great year that could have drawn more attention to the veteran winger. Like most of the team, he was impacted greatly during some of the doldrums of the season early on. Frolik’s shooting percentage cratered to 4.9% in November (16GP) and 3.8% in December (13GP) after starting off relatively hot (four goals in his first 10GP – 21.1%).  The positive side was, well, his ability to make an impact even if he wasn’t the one scoring:

The emergence of the 3M line helped carry the burden at times when the rest of the team was struggling. Moreover, it wasn’t just their abilities to create in the offensive zone, but their abilities away from the puck. Frolik’s value and impact in suppression goes further than just shot and goal metrics; there’s an obvious element to his game in playing on the forecheck and forcing turnovers that helps contribute to suppressing the opposition:

A similar example of his abilities on the forecheck, forcing turnovers can be found here versus Vancouver. This all-round skill makes him one of the more valuable players on the team and it shows given the usage he was put through, especially on the penalty kill.  Still, as the season went on there was a consistent element of his game where he would produce offense in a perfectly complimentary way.

Even with a quiet postseason, Frolik put up his second-best point (17 goals, 44 points) total since his rookie season with Florida in 2008-09 (21 goals, 45 points).

On-ice impact

(Hero Chart via Own The Puck)

The results of playing on a shutdown line can often be a mixed bag, specifically in shot rates for and against. With Frolik – and much like his peers – that didn’t change much. Even if you factor in the absurd usage and conditions of his deployment, across the board his shot and goal metrics are a representation of the right player in the right system (via Hockey Analysis):

CF60 CA60 CF% GF%
62.19 49.48 55.7% 52.4%

These innate talents lend themselves to rewarding those in this league and despite the percentages working against him early on in the season, Frolik still managed to produce some pretty respectable results in offensive production:

  • 6th in Flames forwards (min. 200 minutes at 5v5) with a G/60 of 0.62 which was just behind Johnny Gaudreau (0.65)
  • T-6th with Backlund with an A/60 of 0.90
  • 5th on the team in total P/60 with 1.51

Because Frolik is a volume shooter, there is always a belief that he doesn’t shoot from in high-danger shooting areas. However, much like Tkachuk, Frolik has a nose for shooting in the high-danger/slot areas. And if he himself isn’t shooting, it’s the results that happen when on the ice by his teammates that help push the Flames towards those higher percentage areas (via Hockeyviz.com):

As alluded to, Frolik is by far one of the best – if not the best – in terms of raw generation of the forwards on the team. When you marry that with the right linemates, in the right circumstances, and play him in a system like Glen Gulutzan’s you’re bound to see some results (5v5 data via HockeyAnalysis.com):

iCF iCF60 iFF iFF60 iSF iSF60
289 16.18 221 12.37 165 9.24

What’s next

Really, when you look at the whole picture of what he can bring be it in creating shots or suppression, his contract is immediately rewarding. It’s possible that if he avoids significant drops in his shooting percentage again, the team starts strong, and they can adjust to some power play issues, that he could push 20 goals again for just the third time in his career.

He’ll be 30 by the end of the 2017-18 season and then it’s a matter of hoping the aging curve doesn’t impact him. Though, with the right linemates, and adjustments to his usage depending on how age impacts him, there should be returns extracted until the end of his contract.

He’s a fixture at even strength and when he’s killing penalties, but more importantly he’s found a home here. Lots of teams would love to have him; hell, Winnipeg probably still wishes he was there. Hopefully when it’s all said and done we can look back on this deal as one of the better free agent signings by the Calgary Flames.


#1 – Brian Elliott #5 – Mark Giordano
#6 – Dennis Wideman #7 – T.J. Brodie
#10 – Kris Versteeg #11 – Mikael Backlund
#13 – Johnny Gaudreau #17 – Lance Bouma
#18 – Matt Stajan #19 – Matthew Tkachuk
#23 – Sean Monahan #25 – Freddie Hamilton
#26 – Michael Stone #27 – Dougie Hamilton
#29 – Deryk Engelland #31 – Chad Johnson
#36 – Troy Brouwer #39 – Alex Chiasson
#44 – Matt Bartkowski #61 – Brett Kulak
#64 – Garnet Hathaway

  • L.Kolkind

    Great article really shows just how big of a positive impact Frolik has on the ice. I think this signing may be Treliving’s best move to date. Some may argue the Hamilton trade, but we did give up quite a bit for Hamilton compared to nothing for Frolik. As well as having no acquisition cost Frolik provides tremendous value for his contract.

    • L.Kolkind

      While I do think Frolik is a fantastic signing I brought up the other day the idea that Treliving has underperformed and overvalues intangibles. To which the same argument we’ve been hearing since Treliving’s first offseason. All the “bad moves” get blamed on Burke. This puts Treliving in a super easy position. When he makes a good move he gets all the credit, but when he signs Brouwer or trades for Stone or extends Bouma, obviously Burke gets the blame. Yes, Burke did publicly announce that he values truculence, but this does not mean we get to sacrifice skill. Ferland, Tkachuk, and Hamilton all play a super tough game. All of those players should still be in the NHL if we didn’t add the value that playing tough brings.

      Yes this is off topic, but the comment sections from relevant posts are dead and Frolik gets an easy A.

      • piscera.infada

        I get what you’re saying, but to nitpick a bit. I don’t think anyone dislikes the Stone trade. He didn’t upgrade things a whole lot, but it was still a worthwhile gamble–and in all honesty, if he’s back on a good contract as a 5/6 next year, I think I like our D a lot more (assuming a #4 upgrade, obviously).

        Yes, Treliving has some stinkers, but there is literally no GM in the NHL that doesn’t. I’m excited for the next few years, because if he can limit those stinkers, he’s shown a very good aptitude for the other parts of the job.

        I will agree that saying “bad moves were Burke” is a cop-out. Although, there are some deals in there that appear to be completely out of line with Treliving’s stated philosophy–Hunter Smith, Bollig, Engelland, Bouma–even if we include other stinkers–Brouwer, Raymond, Ramo 2.0. Remember, Burke is the guy the who didn’t trade Cammalleri, and re-signed Stajan to that albatross. While I doubt it’s entirely true that part of Treliving’s contract hold-up has to do with his role vis-a-vis Burke and King, it does seem to be somewhat logical that he would want more autonomy from those two–their (recent) track record just isn’t strong for much.

        • L.Kolkind

          You’re final paragraph captures the point perfectly. There seem to be two lines of thought between drafting Mangianpan, Phillips and the stinker moves. While Stone wasn’t the best example, it still feels like a wasted 3rd. Was he an upgrade? No, he enjoyed a great PDO and didn’t really provide much value. He still isn’t good enough to be a 3rd pairing D-man and spending a 3rd on him doesn’t seem like great asset use. Having Kulak with Engelland provided better results.

          The end goal is the same though to build a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup. If it is the Treliving that signs Frolik and trades for Hamilton then that’s great. If He doesn’t have enough say to override Burke then we are in trouble. Option 3 is that he and Burke are more like-minded than we thought. They both have made misleading statements in the past. Rember last Summer when we were told Bollig would play a larger role? I guess the larger was a role as a mentor, this is the same Brandon Bollig who cost us a 2nd round draft pick (Matt Iacopelli). I’m not sure what the solution, but I do not believe in the status quo. Brian Burke and Brad Treliving combination have signed two of the worst contracts in the league with Engelland and Brouwer. in the past 2 of the past 3 offseasons. What makes you think they won’t make another mistake this one?

      • Just.Visiting

        Did you mean Freddie Hamilton playing “a super tough game”? While I like Dougie’s offensive skills a lot, I don’t recall seeing the tough part of his game very often. I find it’s his reluctance to play the man and finish the check that sees him often taking lazy penalties.

        • L.Kolkind

          No, I did mean Hamilton he does hit quite a bit and uses his large frame to separate the opposition from the puck really effectively. I thought I remembered a piece written about him showing that he does hit quite a bit. He still did out hit Tkachuk this year though, in 5 more games. I just looked up the stats, but what really surprised me is Sam Bennett was 4th on the team in hits. http://www.hockey-reference.com/teams/CGY/2017.html

          Also, I guess leading the team in hits is what Brouwer brings to the table.

      • hulkingloooooob

        Hammer-town “tough”? Um…. I agree he should be a little more gritty, which we saw flashes of, but I wouldn’t say he’s there yet. I’d love to see him maintain his excellent play while adding a bit of a nasty edge.

  • freethe flames

    While I like reading about how people value certain players I am hopeful that we will have something new to talk about when BT gets something done. I really don’t need another article on who to protect, which free agents we should sign but rather I would like to see how BT is making this team better.

      • freethe flames

        17 sleeps till LV knows. 18 till we can start speculating again. What I don’t want to see is other teams getting better between now and then and us staying idle. I thought that when Darling and Bishop were moved and signed that things might start happening but it seems to have stalled.

  • BringtheFire

    To me, this signing was Tre at his best. He has his targets in mind, knows why he wants them, and then makes his move. TSN described him as; “…a smart GM. He’s aggressive but doesn’t make busy work.”

    And I still think the Byron and Troy moves were done under the influence of Burke.

    But Frolik is optimal contract value, to me.

  • Puckhead

    I thInks it’s a testament to Frolik that so few people have anything to say about him. He isn’t flashy but also doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He quietly goes about doing what he is paid to do and he does it very well.

  • Just.Visiting

    Really solid all round game and complements Backlund very well, so I’d keep them matched up. Seems like a great fit and positive influence on the team. I had thought the salary was a bit on the high side when we signed him, but it’s worked out well-certainly much better than most of our other free agent signings.