On the first day of free agency, general manager Rob Blake and the Los Angeles Kings didn’t waste any time in adding depth to the lineup. The team signed unrestricted free-agents Joakim Ryan and Martin Frk on July 1.
Both players have shown they can contribute in different ways. They have the ability to add some help in the 2019-20 season and further down the road. Let’s get to know the two new additions.
Kings Land All-Round D-Man Ryan
After Erik Karlsson re-signed with the San Jose Sharks, it was going to take a miracle for Ryan to stay with the team that drafted him. The defenseman decided it was time to move on and eventually signed a one-year, one-way contract worth $725,000 with the Kings.
The 2012 seventh-round draft pick was notably known for his versatility as a defenseman, which stood out most to the Sharks. Ryan has spent most of his career with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ affiliate organization. In 2016-17 with the Barracuda, he recorded 49 points and tallied a plus-minus of plus-27.
His success in the American Hockey League helped him make his NHL debut with the Sharks in 2017-18, which turned out to be the young defenseman’s best season thus far. In 62 games played, Ryan scored three goals, registered 12 points and finished with a plus-13.
It was a different story for Ryan in 2018-19, however. Rookie Radim Simek beat out Ryan for a spot among the team’s top-six defensemen. It seemed as though San Jose’s head coach Peter DeBoer couldn’t rely on him among a fairly stacked blue line. He saw most games from inside the press box instead of on the bench. When Simek was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury in mid-March, Ryan finally saw some ice time.
Ryan finished last season goalless with seven assists. While he made a minimal impact offensively in 44 contests, Ryan was also considered to be a periodic liability defensively. The inconsistency often led to plays like the one below.
Comparing his two seasons in the NHL, his defensive stats took a serious decline. In 2017-18, Ryan’s PDO team on-ice save percentage was 93.8. He saw a 5.1 percent decrease after the 2018-19 season.
Despite the recent struggles, Ryan has the capability to restore his career and bounce back with his new team, especially if he gets the opportunity to work with Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez. The New Jersey native will most likely serve as the Kings’ seventh defenseman in 2019-20.
Kings Gain Offensive Depth with Frk
Although it may be difficult for him to secure a spot on the Kings, the team added some help in the offensive zone with the signing of Frk. The right-winger signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level. Frk was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He spent three seasons with Detroit’s affiliate franchise, the Grand Rapid Griffins, before making his debut with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016-17.
He was only in Carolina for less than a month, going pointless in two games, before heading back to the Red Wings. The Czech Republic native rejoined the Griffins to finish off the 2016-17 season and led them to clinch the Calder Cup. In 65 games played, Frk tied a career-high with 27 goals and recorded a career-best 23 assists and 50 points.
His AHL success propelled him back to The Show as he made his Detroit debut in 2017-18. However, the Red Wings didn’t quite see the same success repeat at the professional level. Frk tallied 11 goals and 14 assists for a minus-14 in 68 games.
This led him to spend time with both the Red Wings and Griffins last season, with more point productivity in Grand Rapids. In 30 games with the Red Wings, Frk only recorded six points but registered 14 in 13 games with the Griffins. If the inconsistency continues, Frk might not make the starting roster, but could make an impact with the Ontario Reign, Los Angeles’ AHL team.
It seems he’s currently at the bottom of the Kings’ totem pole and will have to work hard to get some playing time. With Frk being known for his excellent shot and ability to move through traffic, the Kings and their fans hope to see some plays like these (2:02 and 3:40 in the video above) during the 2019-20 season.
Sara Biela is a Los Angeles Kings contributor for The Hockey Writers. Biela graduated from San Jose State University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She covered SJSU Athletics and the San Jose Sharks through the college’s student-run sports-media publication, The Spear.