This year's NHL free agency frenzy was overtaken by Ilya Kovalchuk, which was expected. What was not expected was Alexander Frolov sitting on the open market for nearly a month, without any contract offers sitting on the table.
Frolov had previously spent his entire eight-year NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings before he became an unrestricted free agent this year. Although the Kings were intent on bringing Frolov back into the fold, they put his negotiations on hold as they worked on signing Kovalchuk to a contract.
But as the Kings and Kovalchuk danced through their negotiations, it became clear to Frolov that he was not a priority. And although he had wanted to re-sign in Los Angeles (or at least hear the Kings out), the team wouldn't negotiate with him until they knew what was going on with Kovalchuk. This put a bad taste in Frolov's mouth, and he began looking elsewhere for employment.
Although a 4-year $20 million contract was offered from the KHL, Frolov wanted to stay in the NHL. In the end, Glen Sather signed him to a one-year $3 million contract.
Frolov fills a need that the Rangers sorely needed. The lack of scoring -- even with perennial star Marian Gaborik notching 42 goals and 44 assists last year -- was a major issue for the Blueshirts last year. The power play, which was also a problem, mainly due to its inconsistency, should also get a boost with the addition of Frolov.
Statistically last year was one of his worst years in the NHL. His 19 goals was his lowest total since his rookie year, and his 51 points was also low for his career average. His overall point production has dropped the past three years for a few reasons.
For starters, his power play time was dramatically reduced the past two years; with the Kings opting to use Ryan Smyth instead of Frolov in most instances. The other thing that helped put a dent in Frolov's point totals was the Kings trying to improve his two-way game. Something that Frolov put a ton of time and effort in, even though it adversely effected his point totals.
As it stands now, Frolov will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. And even better than that, he will be playing for a new contract.
The signing helps alleviate some of the scoring pressure that the Rangers have forced upon Marian Gaborik. Frolov, although off of a down year, will still be expected to score around 25 goals this year. With the Rangers probably looking at him for his offense, rather than having him work on his two-way game, and giving him substantial power play time his numbers should increase pretty dramatically. Especially since John Tortorella just said that he wanted Frolov to play with Gaborik on the teams first line.
Overall if Frolov doesn't work out, the Rangers can let him walk after this year. It's going to be hard to find something wrong with this deal, both the price tag and the years are remarkably small, so it was definitely a good grab for Glen Sather.
Glen Sather's final grade on the Alexander Frolov signing: A+