SCRATCHING THE FROLOV ITCH
Frolov really should be used to it by now. So should we. Our Russian left winger has been, at one time or another, in the doghouse of just about every Kings coach since he was drafted. Murray scratched him and regularly asked for “more.” Crawford was on him about his lack of consistency and he wanted “more.” During the offseason, Kings General Manager and President, Dean Lombardi made it clear that he believes Frolov is capable of so much “more.”
Now that Frolov has added a new component to his game, turnovers, Terry Murray has bucked the trend of his General Manager and predecessors and asked for less. Less of Frolov, or in his mind better yet, none of Frolov. This little bit of news has sent Kings fans to their keyboards speculating about Frolov’s future, whether he will be traded during the season, will or will not sign in the offseason or if we will lose him for nothing. At lakingsnews.com, we don’t speculate…well, sometimes we do. Tonight however, we analyze.
If the Kings’ management and coaches expect Frolov to be a gritty second line left winger who takes the body, crashes the net, and shoots more than he passes, then they should expect disappointment and blame nobody but themselves. That is not Frolov’s game. He doesn’t hit. He doesn’t crash anything. He will take the pass over the shot nearly every time.
Frolov is first and foremost a puck possession forward who creates time and space for his center and right wing. He thrives in a European style game where puck possession is king (pun intended) and most of the game is played away from the boards. Remember the 1995 Red Wings that suddenly inherited five Russians who you couldn’t knock off the puck to save your life? Larionov, Fetisov, Fedorov, Kozlov and Konstantinov? Well, Frolov would be the Kozlov of that group, a forward who still plays in the NHL today with the Atlanta Thrashers. A player who was never great, but was always good. A player that would give you 20 to 30 goals and 20 to 30 assists without breaking too much of a sweat. A player who thrives when surrounded by talent. A player you would never expect or look to “lead” but who would give you a good season of individual numbers though he may take games or even an entire home stand or road trip “off”. A talented player who relies almost exclusively on his talent and is unemotional about intangibles that define the word “grit.” Don’t get my wrong. I am not advocating that Kozlov is Frolov’s ceiling but the numbers you see and the style of game they play are undeniable.
It is my analysis that Dean Lombardi intends to build a North America style hockey team, not a “finesse” team (as it is sometimes called when talented but not necessarily physical players predominate) nor a “blended” team like today’s Red Wings that play both a physical and puck possession game, the degree of which varies from line to line. It is my expectation that, cover your ears Duck haters, a 2007 Anaheim team is the “model” franchise…I know, I know, it hurts to hear but it’s tough medicine and it’s good for you. If you cannot bear it, just take the Flyers and make them better…much better.
Of course, what sometimes gets lost in all this talk that is made “public” about Frolov’s problems is his asset value. If the Kings were trying to maximize Alexander’s value in a trade (an aspect of asset management), they have done a poor job. Scratching him is one thing. However, Murray’s statements to Rich Hammond may leave other teams that Lombardi approaches with a proposal with the “why would we give up ___ for that?” __ is the player Dean wants. If you don’t know to what statements I refer, check out Hammond’s site. I suggest you go in wearing a shirt you don’t like because there is a lot of piss and vinegar being tossed around over there.