When the Los Angeles Kings signed Martin Frk during the 2019 offseason, most fans wouldn’t have expected the 25-year-old sniper to make much of an impact at the NHL level. Having only played 100 NHL games at the time of his signing, most fans likely saw him as an AHL signing that could fill in for the team in case of emergencies. However, after a solid 17-game stint to end the 2019-20 season that saw him post six goals and two assists, most fans had him as a nailed-on starter for the season opener on Jan. 14. This makes the decision to place him on waivers a peculiar one.
Most fans were excited to see what he could do this season, specifically when paired with center Gabe Vilardi whom he developed some fantastic chemistry with last year. The chemistry with Vilardi is something that Frk himself acknowledged during a preseason interview with NHL.com. The two players seemed most effective when paired with winger Adrian Kempe, and reuniting this line could help alleviate some of the team’s goal-scoring problems. One player alone won’t be able to fix the team’s scoring troubles, however, they can certainly make a difference.
Frk’s Fantastic Shot
Most hockey fans were introduced to Frk’s shot at the 2020 AHL All-Star classic as he shattered the league’s record for the hardest shot and bested Zdeno Chara’s record of 108.8 MPH when he recorded a 109.2 MPH slap shot. His shot is much more than a party favor, though — the Czech winger adds accuracy into the mix making him a deadly goal scorer. Even with his superhuman-like power, his release is the most impressive facet of his shot. Often if players are unable to translate their goalscoring from other leagues into the NHL it’s their release that proves to be the Achilles heel.
With so little time and space afforded to players in the NHL, being able to get the puck off your stick quickly is crucial to scoring goals. Fortunately, this is not an issue — be it an Ovie-Esque one-timer or simply a lighting quick snapshot, Frk rarely needs a second invitation to put the puck on, and often in, the net.
The data backs him up as a fantastic shooter as well. He ended last season with a shooting percentage (S%) of 23.1% in his 17 games. With 17 games being a small sample size, many would consider his shooing percentage in that time to be unsustainable. I would point to Frk’s shooting percentage of 20.7% in the AHL during the 2019-20 season as proof that even if his accuracy dips, it’s unlikely to be a massive drop-off. The two people possibly most impressed by his shot have been teammates Cal Peterson and Jonathan Quick, with the former stating:
“This is a shot like I’ve never really seen before”LA Kings via NHL.com
With the team likely sellers during the upcoming trade deadline, a top-6 role could become available for the man with the hardest shot in the league. I think with an increased role on the team, he could make a big impact in the last month of the season.
Help on the Power Play
The power play started the season hot — scoring 22 goals in their first 25 games. Unfortunately, they have cooled off massively — scoring just three goals in their last 12 games on the man advantage. The team also went goalless on 21 straight power plays during this time with Drew Doughty’s goal against the Arizona Coyotes on April 5th ending the drought.
Adding a massive threat like Frk’s shot onto the struggling power play could help the struggling unit find goals again. Being a right-handed shooter means he would slot onto the Kings’ first power-play unit wonderfully — being able to set up on the left side, creating a one-timer threat on both sides of the ice. He could not only add goals to this power play, but his shooting threat will also create space for his teammates.
He has the kind of shot that teams need to respect and constantly be worried about. With him on the ice, teams will be less aggressive on the Kings’ playmakers, specifically Anze Kopitar and Doughty. His introduction onto the top unit would also help the struggling second unit — with Adrian Kempe or Alex Iafallo likely making way for Frk, one of those players could drop down to the second unit and provide some much-needed help.
Frk on Waivers a Real Head-Scratcher
The Kings have struggled desperately to score goals at both 5v5, and recently on the power play. With this in mind, the decision to send the team’s most dangerous shooter in Frk through waivers is a real head-scratcher. His ability to score goals in all situations would add an element to the team’s game they’re currently missing.
Hopefully, he clears waivers and is integrated into the lineup after he fully recovers from his current injury. He is likely not the long-term answer to the team’s scoring problems, but he can be a short-term solution while young sharpshooters Arthur Kaliyev and Samuel Fagemo continue developing in the AHL.
My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.