Alex Frolov was let go by the Los Angeles Kings last summer, and received multiple offers from teams in the KHL to go play there. However, Frolov turned down a lot of money to get one last shot at proving himself in the NHL, and that shot would come with the Rangers. I don’t need to tell you that this article is going to be pretty ugly. Let’s review just what happened during Frolov’s year with the Rangers:
What We Expected
Frolov was brought in to add some scoring to our top-6. The previous season essentially featured Gaborik and Prospal producing most of the offense, and that simply isn’t good enough for a team trying to make the playoffs. Although there was hope that Frolov could return to 35 goal, 70 point form, it wasn’t fully expected. I think what most of us wanted to see was just an added scoring presence, someone who could be an asset on the power play and could add 22-26 goals. Basically the role that Markus Naslund played when he was brought in during the 2008-2009 offseason. It also would have been nice if Frolov could fit in on a line with Gaborik. Especially when Prospal went down with his knee injury, there was concern that, once again, Gaborik would be left to do everything himself. If Frolov could fit on the first line and produce enough to keep the opposition honest then Frolov’s season would have been a success.
How He Did
It’s hard to find many bright spots in Frolov’s season. He scored only two goals through his first 16 games of the season, and both were complete flukes. His first goal as a Ranger came as he banked it off an Avalanche defender as he tried to pass across to Marc Staal on a 2 v 1. His second goal was a shot that took a bizarre bounce off a Bruins’ stick and floated over Tuuka Rask’s head into the net. He had only 3 assists as well, so is contributions offensively were minimal. When you look at players like Brandon Dubinsky or Artem Anisimov, they too had streaks where they were not registering points. However, they were manageable because of their other contributions. Dubinsky on the forecheck, on faceoffs, and on the penalty kill. Anisimov for his top notch defensive play. Frolov’s ability to contribute to a hockey team is solely in offensive input, so when he’s not helping get the puck into the net he’s completely worthless. Frolov finally showed life with a 2 goal, 2 assist performance against the Edmonton Oilers. Rangers fans had hoped that Frolov simply needed a game like this to get his confidence up and that he would start producing regularly. However, that simply wasn’t the case. He would have 1 goal in the next 11 games, and it was also his only point through that stretch. That was followed by 5 points in 5 games, but again after that it was more irrelevance. Frolov would play 7 more games without registering a single point, and watched his season, and for at least a few years, his NHL career, end with a torn ACL. He ended his short-lived Rangers tenure with 7 goals and 9 assists in 43 games.
Final Grade: F
Frolov had important contributions in two games this season. There was the Oilers game previously discussed, and there was his game winning goal against the Penguins, a goal that was scored 15 seconds after Erik Christensen tied that game at one and a goal that was was a major part of a 4 goal 3rd period for the Rangers. If your contributions can be attributed to a couple of games then your season was a complete failure regardless of your role on the team. When you were brought in to be one of the team’s top scorers then it’s even more pathetic. Frolov came to New York to attempt to resurrect his career, and he failed completely.
On May 12th Frolov signed a three year deal to play for Avangard Omsk of the KHL. There was no way that Frolov was going to be resigned by the Rangers, and it’s apparent that he realized that his time in the NHL, at least for a while, is up. He wouldn’t be the first player to come back to the NHL after going to Europe mid-career, so it’s possible that he returns to North America eventually. Don’t expect it to be with the Rangers, though.