Los Angeles Kings’ winger Martin Frk has officially cleared waivers. He was placed on waivers on April 7, as per Elliotte Friedman.
This enabled any NHL team to claim Frk off waivers without having to make a trade for him, but nobody chose to make a move, thus he cleared waivers on April 8. He is a sharpshooting winger and could have made the Kings regret waiving him.
This is good news for the Kings, as Frk still has value to the team. Clearing waivers allowed LA to assign him to their AHL affiliate Ontario Reign.
An Injury Riddled 2020-21
Frk has been riddled with injuries in 2020-21, which have limited him to playing in just one lone NHL game this season. Thus far, he has yet to lace up his skates with the Reign, so he’s only played one hockey game in total this year. He suffered a lower-body injury earlier this season, which is rumored to be a “recurrence of a groin issue” he previously had.
Frk Boasts a Lethal Shot
Perhaps Frk’s biggest claim to fame is the cannon of a shot that he possesses. In fact, he has the hardest shot among active NHL players. In the 2020 AHL All-Star Competition, he recorded an otherworldly 109.2 miles-per-hour slap shot. This shattered the AHL’s previous record for the hardest shot and was harder than Zdeno Chara’s NHL record of 108.8, set in 2012.
Frk’s heavy shot gives him the potential to be an effective player on the power play. Players such as Shea Weber; Brent Burns; and Chara have been power play mainstays throughout their career due to their heavy shots. Unlike these blueliners, Frk is a winger, so instead of releasing his cannon of a shot from the point, he could be deployed closer to the net, potentially making his laser of a shot even more dangerous.
Chemistry with Gabriel Vilardi
Frk and Gabriel Vilardi tore it up together in the AHL. In 2019-20, Frk scored 23 goals and added 13 assists in 37 AHL games played, while Vilardi produced 25 points in 32 games.
They were both called up to the Kings at similar points in the 2019-20 NHL season. Frk posted eight points in 17 games that season. Vilardi only played in 10 NHL games, where he produced seven points. Upon Vilardi’s call up, he immediately began centering LA’s second line and Frk played on his wing. During this span, LA won eight games, including seven in a row to conclude the season.
Together the duo of Vilardi and Frk played very effectively in the NHL last season, which led to Vilardi being pegged a potential Calder Trophy contender.
Vilardi has struggled to replicate his success from his first 10 NHL games. This season, he has nabbed 15 points in 38 games played. This is a points per game (P/G) of 0.39, a much lower clip than his 0.7 P/G in 2019-20. His blocked shots per game have dropped from 0.4 to 0.3. His faceoff percentage (FO%) of 45.6% is also a regression from his FO% of 53.3% in 2019-20.
Vilardi’s play this season has earned him a spot in Todd McLellan’s doghouse, as he was removed from his natural position at center (he was the Kings’ second-line center at points this season) and since has tumbled down the lineup to being utilized as a fourth-line winger.
Recently, Vilardi was made a healthy scratch for a game against Arizona on April 7 in favor of Brendan Lemieux being thrust into the lineup.
Frk has undeniable chemistry with Vilardi, as proven by their success together at both the AHL and NHL levels in 2019-20. Perhaps he could rejuvenate Vilardi if given an opportunity to crack the Kings roster once again.
Frk has the Toolbox to be a Successful Player
Frk has the toolbox to be a successful NHL player. He has a cannon of a shot, which has proven to be accurate. In 2019-20, he generated a 20.7 shooting percentage (SH%) with the Reign. Afterward, his SH% in the NHL was 23.1% during his 17 game stint with the Kings. His highly accurate shot has been a hallmark of his game dating back to his time with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL.
The 27-year-old Czech was a second-round draft selection for a reason, despite his game not translating to NHL success yet, Frk has the necessary tools to at least become an effective player on the power play. Overall, LA is lucky that he managed to not be snatched up off waivers by another team, as he could blossom into a 10 to 20 goal scorer