WWYDW: What is Michael Frolik’s future with the Flames?

Michael Frolik has had an interesting tenure with the Flames.

Perhaps Brad Treliving’s best July 1 signing, when Frolik was brought into the fold during the 2015 offseason, it made a lot of sense: he was one of the top right wingers on the market, and his great underlying numbers had him pegged as a perfect fit for playing alongside Mikael Backlund, who up until that point had been playing with the Lance Boumas and David Joneses of the hockey world.

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Furthermore, he was brought onto a team just starting to get its upswing in order, and one that had plenty of room to give him a well-earned five-year, $4.3 million AAV contract.

Things have changed since then, though, and by a lot. Once guaranteed second line ice time and a top spot on the penalty kill, Frolik has seen his role diminished over the years. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan became established top line players, Matthew Tkachuk jumped into the NHL right away, and Elias Lindholm helped round out an impressive young forward group. Backlund never really took a step back, but Frolik – now 30 – was hit with a particularly brutal 2017-18 season, even when compared to the similarly disappointing seasons many of the Flames had that year.

And now the Flames have a Frolik freshly returned from injury, who is still an occasional healthy scratch, with just nine points on the season, still on the books for another season after this one, still carrying a $4.3 million cap hit right when Tkachuk’s is about to go up exponentially.

Frolik only averages 12:02 a game now; he hasn’t seen ice time that low since the 2013-14 season, when the Blackhawks used a then-24-year-old Frolik in a pure shutdown role, giving him 12:31 minutes a night. He had three 40-point seasons since then (likely would have been four, if it weren’t for another injury), but those days appear to be behind him, especially considering the forward depth ahead of him now.

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On the one hand, if Frolik is playing in your bottom six, you probably don’t have that many issues with your forward construction. On the other hand, that’s a hefty chunk of change for someone the coach doesn’t seem to trust playing in a fairly limited role.

Throw another wrench into the mix: the Flames look like they’ll be going to the playoffs this year (knock on wood), which means it might be time to buy at the trade deadline. Frolik could potentially be a trade chip – he’s still a good enough player, and another team may have bigger minutes in line for him – or crucial forward depth for a postseason run, especially considering how he still appears to be the best fit alongside Tkachuk and Backlund.

Which brings us to the What Would You Do Wednesday question: where do you see Frolik finishing the year? If it’s on the Flames, is it with a reunited 3M line, or does he play further down the lineup? Is it worth it to hold onto him for this season for forward depth purposes, or would it be better now to try to cut the cap hit loose?

If he does get traded, is there anyone available to step in for him right now? The Flames have been shuffling AHL forwards and prospects all season; fun as Alan Quine’s run was, he’s not as good as Frolik, and players like Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane haven’t looked like they’re quite up to the task of regular NHL minutes over a full season just yet. Or would he be a part of a package to bring in a true top six linemate for Tkachuk and Backlund (one that would likely cost the Flames another good, young player – potentially one of their rookie defencemen)?

Agent-inspired complaints aside, Frolik’s usage this year under Bill Peters has been odd, and it may be a hint that the team doesn’t see him in their plans for much longer. But in the meantime, there doesn’t really appear to be anyone else available who can play at the level he does – and maybe it’d be best to not just hang on to him, but re-elevate his role, unless an offer or option the Flames can’t refuse comes up instead.

  • Clayton

    Why as soon as there is depth in the forward ranks are people trying to trade it away? Frolik provides a mid-6 forward at a reasonable cost. Unless he is part of a trade to bring in something we need more…and with favourable contract and age bracket…keep him right where he is.

    • Cfan in Van

      That’s the way I see it. Given salary and usage, he’s definitely toeing the line of over paid for given output, I don’t see how they’ll be able to improve the roster this season by trading Frolik away. He’s a known-quantity depth piece as we move toward the post-season, who has already meshed with our existing players. His contract is not a bargain by any means, and I doubt that many teams will be willing to give up something better than a Frolik, for a Frolik.

      • Cfan in Van

        I meant to finish with:
        I think the off season is the time to shop him, if he doesn’t fit the plans. Maybe they feel they can replace him internally by that point, and get some picks.

      • 左翼二

        My first thought was: there are some pretty bad GMs out there who BT could fleece, i.e. Chia and Benning. Then I remembered that they’re bad because the still want ‘heavy hockey’, and Fro does not fit that mould at all, so yeah, he may be tough to trade if that is what the Flames want to do.

    • R4anders

      The issue as I see it isn’t that we are wanting to move depth, it’s the fact he’s the odd man out some nights and he’s making 4+. He’s still a serviceable nhler but on our team, with our needs he’s overpaid. I believe the flames will absolutely be looking to bring in a Simmonds or even a Reinhart type guy and we’ll need the space to make it happen.

  • MarkyOgg

    I think there is a forgotten name in the A that could probably step in and do a similar job to the current Frolik, Lazar. Curtis has been very good this year, and instead of his agent bringing drama to the locker room, it’s the ever smiling, always positive Lazar.

    • MOlson

      I agree Re Lazar; I also think we’d see a much improved Lazar under BP vs GG. As for Frolik, there still could be a move that brings a top six right handed RW (what they were hoping for w/ Czarnik). If the deal doesn’t involve Frolik, he’d be an awesome bottom six forward for a deep playoff run. (But, how much drama would that bring from his agent?)

  • NHL93

    If you have to move him (to shore up another need due to injury) do it at the deadline. If you don’t have to move him, don’t until the summer. No use trading away a good depth player when you’re in the playoff hunt.

  • buts

    Everyone was complaining about Stajan making 3.5 mill a year. Stajan brought more to the table than Frolik who’s making 4.3 mill per season. If you can trade him do it as he is now no more than a 4th line checker who’s role could easily be taken by a Stockton prospect.

      • buts

        Stajan could take faceoffs and made almost a million less, was a good dressing room leader scored the series clincher against the nucks in 15′. Yes he was overpaid. Frolik brings next to zero offense as the play dies on his stick, takes the long path to the corners and there’s 5-6 guys in Stockton that can do what he does. 4.3 a year for what?

        • flames2015

          Michael Frolik (4 years as a Flame) : 239 GP, 49 goals, 110 points.
          Matt Stajan ( last 4 years): 288GP: 23 goals, 69 points. Average faceoff wins in 4 years 49.81%.

          But you’re right, Stajan brought way more to the table than Frolik ever did. Absolutely.

  • moore_tweets

    I agree with Clayton. Why would we trade away a proven shutdown forward? I think the Flames WILL NEED HIM in the postseason. Maybe if Neal stepped up this year, maybe if Dube panned out this year, or maybe if Lazar was an NHLer, then maybe we could cut ties. Until then, Frolik belongs on the wing next to Backlund. Shutting down other teams top lines. Don’t be silly, he’s not going anywhere.

  • 左翼二

    If we could get back the Fro from a couple seasons ago, that would be great, and maybe with some consistent 3M time it could happen.
    If that doesn’t happen, then maybe keep moving him around the line up, and in and out of the line up. He could be very valuable as depth during OUR playoff run, no need to trade him to the competition for their run.

  • freethe flames

    If you move Frolik prior to the deadline it should be part of a deal to bring back another forward. A deal with: Minni: Frolik+ for Coyle or with LA: Frolik+ for Tiffoli. He could also be used for a team for a rental. While he primarily plays RW he is a LHS so he iss replaceable from within. I would prefer a guy with term over a rental.

    • Jessemadnote

      As long as we’re doing some fantasy trades my suggestion would be Frolik + Janko + a 1st for Brayden Schenn. Salaries are about even St Louis gets a young NHL Centre with 17 goals last season, a pick and a solid defensive forward. Calgary gets a top 9 that looks like this:

      Johnny Mony Lindholm
      Tkachuk Schenn Neal
      Bennett Backlund Czarnik

      • Beer League Coach

        Over payment for Schenn. If we give up Fro, Janko, and our 1st pick we should get Schenn and Blues 1st rd pick which is certain to be much higher than the Flames pick.

        • Jessemadnote

          Blues don’t have a first. Also, Schenn has averaged 58 points in the last four years, he’s 27 years old and under contract for the next two years. If anything this is an underpayment.

  • Flamesforever

    I want to see Dube on that right side with Tkachuk and Backlund. If he sticks (which from what I’ve seen in his limited minutes might be the case) then trade Frolik for either picks at the deadline or a prospect or two. We need the cap space for Tkachuk anyway.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      We don;t need tha cap space now or even this season, unless you are adding Simmons or something like that.
      Frolik had a down season and has started slow, mostly due to an injury and not being played on the 3M line much.
      Strangely enough, the 3M line looked actually dangerous this past game. More than I can say for the month of December. Maybe guys have stepped up to take away the PK minutes, but more so because they like to have two C’s out there; Lindy and Bacjlund or Ryan and Janko.

      His value is low right now. No reason to trade him before the summer.

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    I’m with the majority here that we should keep him so won’t repeat. This is more about what to do with him if we are keeping him. For the team’s part … put him where he is most effective and that is with Chucky and Backs. There’s more than just coincidence that they went off against the Sharks. That leaves Janko, Bennett and Neal to prove they deserve minutes. I think they can make this a 3 line race. For Fro’s part … just effing show up every game. Somehow I think he got his nose out of joint this year with the new RW depth and has forgotten at times to dig in and to what he is great at … puck possession and retrieval. If he keeps that he keeps his spot and Czarnik remains on the outside looking in.

  • Jobu

    Given how he performed on the 3M line last game I would suggest we keep him, and keep him on that line.

    No one else has liked looked better despite BPs attempts.

    • buts

      His last game was a better play good game as his agent chirped management or he probably would have been scratched again. The Frolik of 2 years ago was pretty good. Now he is a overpaid 4th liner at best.

  • Korcan

    My choice would be to keep him until the offseason. Depth is so important in the playoffs, so why would brass trade theirs away.

    Come offseason, he is likely the prime candidate to be moved. He still has skills that make him attractive to other teams and moving him will free up some much-needed cap space.

    I also can see Tre moving one of his young lhs Dmen (likely Kylington over Valimaki or Hanafin) come offseason, since he has more bodies than spots and they have all proven to be NHL ready. This one hurts as i really like all of them, but Kylington could fetch a pretty good return, possibly even a young, promising, rhs winger for Backlund and Tkachuk.

    It is a good thing to have an overabundance of promising depth in a given position.

  • Phockey

    If they weren’t going to make the playoffs I could see trading Frolik for younger prospects with skill or picks. That is if there was value in doing so. Right now with the Flames in the hunt he would be exactly the kind of guy that they would be looking for. A Swiss Army Knife with lots of experience and speed. Without giving something extra = picks or young talent the Flames are in tough to do well in a trade. Given that he has established chemistry on the team you are not going to acquire immediate help better than Frolik. Maybe BT is a riverboat gambler and hedges his bets. Maybe he still trades him this year for future younger talent and or picks to a team that sees itself making a deep run to the cup this year. Fun to watch and see what happens.

    • deantheraven

      Excellent point. He’s what we would want another of, if we were looking to buy at the deadline.
      There are other, more moveable parts on the forward roster that could be dealt and not break up one of the best lines we’ve had.

    • Cfan in Van

      That’d be great and all, but I think Ferly as a rental would cost more than a Fro signed for over 4M next season. And Ferly would be just that, a rental, because we can’t afford him given his production lately (and don’t want to gamble a huge contract on that noggin of his).

      All that said, it would be heroic to end up with a lineup at the deadline that included Lindy, Hanifin, AND Ferly.

  • Mitchell

    He’s probably going to be traded during the offseason to a fringe playoff team that has cap to spare. One year at that cap hit is not much of a deterrent when that team could probably sign him to a cheap contract when they’re closer to actually competing. His trade value would be pretty low maybe a 3rd rounder at very best.

    • Mitchell

      That aside, what is everyone’s viewpoint on victor rask? I’m thinking he could be a potential target for a james neal trade by seasons end if he doesn’t figure it out.

  • RKD

    Let’s see Czarnik has 2g in 23gp and –
    6 Ryan has 4g in 39 and is -4. Frolik has 7g in 23gp and is +5. He’s better than both offensively and defensively. I know Bt wanted more rh shooters on the bottom pairing but those two haven’t done a whole lot to improve the bottom 2 lines like Janko or Bennett have.

  • The Beej

    This one is easy. To echo my own previous comments on previous posts and the comments of many others:
    Why do we want to trade away our depth as soon as we have it?

    Keep him for the season and the playoff run then shop him in the summer for a pick when we will have a greater number of trade partners.

    Only way I would trade him in season if it is part of a package for an upgrade or for a goalie. It would have to be a cant miss type of deal though.