The Days of Alexander Frolov Are Finally Behind Us; Ponikarovsky a King
On Monday, multiple hockey writers were reporting that Alexander Frolov was close to signing a deal with the New York Rangers. Dmitri Chesnekov, famed Russian-American hockey reporter, was the main man on the case. Here’s how it went down on my twitter stream:
It’s true that Frolov’s agent said Alexander will sign a one year deal with the #NYR.
Praise Jebus! The Rangers? Ooh. I’m guessing $6.25MM per year.
Come again? Yes, t’was the Kings plan to render him useless and then throw him out there every game. WHAT?!
Was told Rangers and Alexander Frolov are “in discussions” but deal isn’t done just yet.
Dammit. I hate you twitter.
Just tried to get Frolov on the phone – got his voicemail.
Hmm. He was probably busy doing skating drills.
But let’s go back to this one:
I’ve never had anything against Alex personally, until right then.
Let me back up.
In the 21st Century, the Kings have not had any consistent source of offensive production. Luc’s 2nd stint ended in 2001, and the 3rd was slightly past his prime.
Ziggy Palffy was probably the closest thing there had been, with two 80+ point seasons, but was often injured and somewhat inconsistent.
Here is a list of names that evoke the same reaction from Kings fans as videos of dudes getting their groins attacked draws from empathetic males:
Jason Allison (injury)
Scott Barney (29th overall pick)
Jaroslav Bednar (51st overall pick)
Brian Boyle (26th overall pick)
Esa Pirnes (is also featured on the wesbsite Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians)
Pavel Rosa (50th overall pick)
Jon Sim (according to his picture was clearly a part of a special needs program that got him his break)
Lauri Tukonen (11th overall pick)
… just to name a few.
These guys were either high draft picks that disappointed or acquired based on some level of previous success, some more so than others, and some went on to have success elsewhere in the NHL after playing with the Kings, or simply hung around and underwhelmed for too long.
It seems that management tried just about anything to get some help at goal scoring, even bringing in guys like Roenick, Carter, Nagy, Straka, but the most prevalent strategy was apparently poor drafting. Oddly that didn’t quite pan out.
All of them played between 2000-2010. Seriously. That happened. Click on the names if you don’t believe me.
And they ALL disappointed in Los Angeles.
Call it the lack of traditional hockey environment that so many people cite about LA.
Call it the infinite number of distractions a professional athlete can encounter here. Rachel Hunter?
Call it the sub-par ice surface (which is questionable).
But whatever you do, don’t call it rare or unique, because it is clearly not.
With all this history of disappointment, the spirit of the comment by Frolov’s agent is nothing short of infuriating.
And the Kings marred Alexander’s last season by criticizing him, shifting him from the first line to the third, by benching him. You can’t show a good game like this.
Of course, this is simply an agent’s attempt to repair the reputation of his client. I completely get it.
But to even for one second suggest that the Kings were actively trying to lower Frolov’s market value and sabotage his game is absurd and appalling. Goal scoring does not come easily in Los Angeles, and when a player has the ability to do so, there is no ****ing way anyone in the Kings’ organization wouldn’t do anything possible to nurture that ability so that it could help the team.
Yes, the facts are, that Frolov scored 32 goals in 2008-2009 getting significantly more playing time on the top line with Anze Kopitar, and only 19 in 2009-2010 playing on mostly the 2nd and 3rd lines.
But what many players like Frolov don’t understand are the concepts of accountability and without-the-puck play. These are two things that coach Terry Murray deem very important. Because of this, he chose to give more ice time to players like Wayne Simmonds, Scott Parse, and Brad Richardson who are shining examples of these concepts. Sure, they don’t light up the score sheets with regularity, but they don’t have a $4MM cap hit either.
The common compliment Frolov receives among Kings fans is that, “He is great in the corners. It’s impossible to knock him off the puck.”
I can in no way disagree with this statement. It is impossible knock him off the puck, but that doesn’t prevent horrible decisions made by the brain controlling the puck, like when he turns it over in the offensive zone on pretty much every shift.
I can see how it seems like I’m being hard on Frolov, and perhaps he takes more scrutiny when he doesn’t produce because he has scored over 30 goals twice. But, it just seems like when he is out for a shift, if he doesn’t score then he is a complete liability, because he will either turn it over in the offensive zone which will lead to an odd-man rush that he won’t back-check for, or will be generally lackadaisical in the defensive or neutral zones and thus be completely useless. So yes, I am harder on Frolov when he doesn’t score because if he doesn’t, or doesn’t contribute to a goal scored, then he is hurting the team while on the ice.
Yes, the same argument is made about many players, but the ones that can get away with it are the ones that continually score 40+ goals. Dany Heatley, for example.
Frolov, however, either skates strictly horizontally, or spends all his time in the corners and along the boards and expresses no interest in skating the puck towards the net, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen him stop skating anywhere within a semi-truck’s length of the crease. Just doesn’t happen.
This was especially evident once Fredrik Modin starting playing with the Kings. Sure Modin is not a perfect player either, but even in his first game as a King I remember having a moment of, ‘Oh. That’s how you take it to the net. Let’s get this Modin guy on the 2nd line.’ And indeed we did, for a while anyway.
As time progressed, the Kings kept developing or acquiring other players that found roles and fit in with the team, while Frolov was not making any effort to do so.
Wayne Simmonds came in and got to every loose puck, hit anything that moved, fought for rebounds, blocked shots, and made defenders think twice before taking an extra step with the puck. He also spend a decent amount of time last season on the top line because, and here is the operative phrase, he EARNED it. And not shockingly, when anyone plays with the top line center, his production improved.
Thus, while Simmonds doesn’t have a clear-cut role at the moment, that is mainly because he can fit in almost anywhere.
Frolov, at this point, really did NOT fit in anywhere.
He is not good enough defensively to play with the comparatively slow-footed Michal Handzus on the third ‘checking’ line.
He is not fast or physical enough to play on the fourth ‘energy’ line.
And other players simply out-earned the spots on the top two lines.
With players like Brayden Schenn, Andrei Loktionov and Tyler Toffoli inevitably moving up the ranks, it was only a matter of time that the Kings no longer required the services of an Alexander Frolov, in order to favor a player that not only claims to want to be in Los Angeles, but shows it.
Frolov signs a 1-year, $3-millon deal with #NYRangers. Turned down four years, $20-mil from KHL.
First of all, I’m not sure if that offer is actually official from the KHL, but I’m sure Frolov wanted to stay in the NHL either way.
Second, the 1-year term is certainly interesting. In a previous article discussing the free-agent market, I postulated that due to the lack of available wingers under 30, Frolov actually might receive a lucrative deal. It seems that his reputation was certainly in question and must be what sparked the comments made by his agent.
Note to NY Rangers fans: Remember Nikolai Zherdev? I hope you liked him. My guess is that Frolov will be the 2nd coming of his Russian comrade, only slower. Much slower.
Perhaps we should just be weary of any and all Russians, taking the above into account, as well as the whole Kovalchuk fiasco. I hate to generalize in such a manner, but it is perhaps at least something to consider.
Ponikarovski agrees to deal with the LA Kings.
Huh? Where the hell did this come from?
What did I just say about Russians? $#&@!
I suppose the bright side is that Poni is bigger than Frolov, listed at 6’4″ 224 lbs. I am frightened by the label that is being used to describe the acquisition, however:
Breaking News: The #LAKings have agreed to terms with four-time 20-goal scorer Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Wooo!!! 4 TIME 20-GOAL SCORER! Plan the parade!
I would list the names that you have never heard of that were four-time 20-goal scorers, but it would triple the size of the disappointing Kings forwards list.
Not sure why Dean just didn’t re-sign Modin, a similar type of player with size and decent speed and hands. Maybe Poni was on the cheap.
Poni. 1 year. $200,000 signing bonus. $3 MIL salary with Kings.
Not to sound redundant, but huh?
Since Ponikarovsky was only able to bury 2 goals in 16 games alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it seems that one day I’ll be adding his name to the list from above.
What is also interesting is that the contract is the same deal that Frolov got from New York. The comparisons will be as endless as they will boring. Like an article in Motor Trend comparing the fuel efficiency of the Ford Focus to that of the VW Jetta. Joining in the immortality will be the comments like, “Well at least Lombardi did SOMETHING,” or “This was the big off-season splash?” “Back up plan to Kovalchuk?” “Replacing one useless Russian winger with another?” Ok that last one was mine and may be less prevalent. But you get the idea.
The point of all this is that I almost feel like Dean made this move just to shut people up. So many have been clamoring about the fact that the Kings have not made one off-season acquisition, which is true, but the mantra of this team has been ‘development’ since Lombardi took over, and just because the team made the playoffs last year that should not change.
Realistically, even if the Kings signed Kovalchuk, they were not going to be cup contenders this year. The team is still far too young. Unfortunately for the impatient fans, we are still in the rebuilding process, albeit much further, and this is just one more step.
Next step: Make Drew Doughty a King for life.