According to LA Kings beat writer Rich Hammond, it appears as if Kings winger Alexander Frolov is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. Citing an interview with Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi, Hammond explains that the team is “not optimistic” about their chances of retaining their young sniper. Should the Leafs be interested in his services?
Here’s a direct quote from Lombardi:
“So would we like to keep him? Yes. But if the price is prohibitive, and maybe would prevent us from filling other holes and making sure we keep Doughty and Johnson and all these kids coming through, then you have to walk away. I think youâ€™re probably right on Fro. Heâ€™s a good player. I guess at times, like you say, you think heâ€™s capable of more, but heâ€™s still a productive player. But you still now have to really be astute in how you attach a price tag to that, or youâ€™re going to get yourself in trouble down the road, and then all this building weâ€™ve done makes no sense if we canâ€™t keep these young players that have come through our system. So Iâ€™m not too optimistic, given what heâ€™s looking for.”
Lombardi would later add that he expects the KHL to offer significant tax-free dollars Frolov’s way, which would potentially complicate things even further.
As a potential suitor for Frolov’s services, you can look at him in two ways. On one hand, you can perceive him as a talented 27 year old winger who plays at both ends of the ice and is willing to engage himself physically in the corners. He’s also averaged 62 points over the past 4 seasons and has twice eclipsed the 30 goal plateau thus far in his career. Given his impressive stature (6’2 210 lbs), it stands to reason that he would look very good alongside Bozak/Kadri and Kessel, assuming Kulemin’s role as the hardworking, forechecking winger, albeit with more offensive productivity. Alex’s numbers have relied on a boost from powerplay production over the past couple seasons, so it should be no surprise that his overall output dipped when his PP time was cut back this season. That could potentially ease some concerns regarding the disappointing totals this season as he would likely get more opportunity with the Leafs. Could he be the missing piece that opens up shooting lanes for Kessel and Phaneuf next year on the man advantage?
Conversely, the critics have some material to work with as well. The Kings have plenty of cap space to play with, so you’d have to believe that if Frolov were asking for an affordable contract, they might’ve already snapped him up by now. Instead, what you may have is a player who has seen his offensive numbers decline steadily during each of the last 4 seasons and bottoming out at just 19 goals this season, his lowest total since he was a 21 year old rookie. With so many youngsters already projected into next year’s lineup, can the Leafs afford to pay up for potential (you know Frolov’s not going to be paid as a 51 point man) and gamble $4-5 million on whether he can regain his previous form. We saw Boston foolishly commit $4 million/season to a young player in a similar situation in Michael Ryder a couple summers ago. Granted, Frolov is a more complete player.
Not an easy decision to make.