The offseason is rolling along, and rumors are flying around. The New Jersey Devils are said to be active and looking to continue improving their roster further, even after adding P.K. Subban via trade and Jack Hughes at the entry draft. In his latest edition of 31 Thoughts, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned the Devils as a possible destination for Calgary Flames forward, Michael Frolik.
He finished 2018-19 with 16 goals and 34 points in 65 games, which comes out to a 42-point pace over 82 games. He’s signed for one more year and has a cap hit of $4.3 million. Could he be a fit for general manager Ray Shero in a trade?
Frolik’s a Steady Two-Way Forward
Frolik signed with the Flames as a free agent in 2015 and has been a steady contributor for them ever since. He had a tough 2017-18 but bounced back closer to his career norms (he’s averaged 38.2 points per 82 games for his career) this season. He had 132 shots on goal and averaged just over 13 minutes of ice time per game, which is what’d you expect from a third liner.
He’s always performed well at five-on-five, and 2018-19 was no different as he was one of the Flames’ top players. He finished with a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 56.27% and had an expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 54.33%. His average of 1.99 points per 60 minutes (P/60) placed him just behind Mikael Backlund and was sixth best on the Flames.
If we expand Frolik’s numbers to include three seasons, they still impress. He’s averaged 1.56 P/60, and he has a CF% of 56.22 percent and an xGF% of 53.48 percent since the start of 2016-17. His impact on the ice has been noticeably positive, too.
He’s had a positive impact creating shot attempts (Off_CF) and expected goals (Off_xG). And he’s even underperforming a bit in the goal-scoring department (Off_GF) compared to his xG. He also gets the job done on the other end the ice as he doesn’t give up much in terms of expected goals (Def_xG) and specifically shot attempts (Def_CF).
His defensive numbers shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as he’s one of the best shot suppressors on the Flames. That makes him a good candidate to play on the penalty kill (PK), which he’s done in Calgary. Despite their 2018-19 record, the Devils had one of the best PKs in the NHL. Adding him would give them another weapon to an already reliable unit.
Frolik Would Give the Devils Depth
The team needs someone who can score more than Frolik, but they also need depth. And that’s where he can play a valuable role. Last season’s lineup consisted of players who were either not NHL caliber or prospects who weren’t ready for the big leagues yet. They can’t have that again, and Shero knows he needs to add more talent.
The Devils already have a pair of solid third-line forwards in Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman. Zajac had his best season since 2013-14, finishing with 19 goals and 47 points, while Coleman had a career-high 22 goals and 36 points.
What they’re missing is someone who can play alongside them. Miles Wood has played well with them in the past, but he’s not the defensive player Frolik is. Every team needs a third line that can score but can also match up with the opposition’s top line. Putting him with Zajac and Coleman would give them just that.
Frolik is an interesting trade target because he only has one year left on his contract. It looks like he’d pretty much be a season-long rental, but that’s not the worst thing for a bottom-six forward. His cap hit of $4.3 million is more than manageable for the Devils, especially if he can produce close to 40 points.
I don’t think it’d cost much to acquire him, especially if the Flames are just looking to shed salary to make moves, like re-signing Matthew Tkachuk. A mid-round draft pick or a B-level prospect would likely get the job done. He’d be an upgrade and would give them a solid two-way player to round out their third line. If the Flames’ asking price isn’t through the roof, then a trade is worth it.
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Alex Chauvancy is a New Jersey Devils writer for The Hockey Writers who has a penchant for advanced stats, prospects, signings and trades. He previously wrote for Devils Army Blog, a New Jersey Devils fan blog, from 2015-2017