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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Season (P)Review: Alex Frolov

Last Season: 35 G, 36 A, 34 PIM, -8, 19:56 Avg. TOI

Word That Best Describes His Season: Frustrating.


Alex Frolov can be very frustrating if you’re a Kings fan. Sure, he’s one of our best players and a promising young talent, but he can be so quiet for long stretches at a time that you forget he’s on the team. I feel bad for him sometimes because I get the feeling that Kings fans spend too much time criticizing him for what he doesn’t do instead of focusing on what he does do well. Let’s take a look at the common criticisms of Frolov and see how they hold up:


Look, he doesn't even move his feet in practice!



He’s slow. This one has always bothered me, because it’s never seemed the least bit true. I will admit that he looks slow, but that’s only because of his skating style. He has a very economical skating motion and I think that tricks a lot of people into thinking he’s slow. Many Kings fans thought Sean Avery was fast, but that’s only because he moved his legs like a mad man; when Frolov and Avery played on the same line, it was obvious that Frolov was faster. One of my favorite Frolov moments from last year was this one:







Did you notice the defenseman he beat to the net? Maybe that’s the moment when Niedermayer decided to hang it up.

He’s inconsistent. This one is probably the complaint that holds the most water. Last season, Alex tallied 43 points in the first 41 games; in the last 41, he scored only 28. One cause might have been the fact that Frolov played in all 82 games last season. (It’s sad, but this is the only time I can remember where he didn’t get the flu. He’s like a baby, or an old person.) I actually think that might have hurt him a little bit. He seems like a guy who might need to be rested occasionally in order to keep him fresh (like J.D. Drew). They do this all the time with goaltenders and I’m not sure why they don’t do it with skaters.

He doesn’t shoot enough. I hear this all the time. Frolov does have a good shot, but he seems to prefer to hold the puck in the corner for long stretches of time and then make a wrap-around attempt that never works. I hate this play too; honestly, it annoys the fuck out of me. Still, though, Frolov scored 35 goals last year and had the 11th best shot percentage in the NHL. I think the reason his shot percentage is so good is a result of his selectiveness. While I do think Frolov should shoot more (he probably should play more in the center of the ice in general), I’d much rather take a guy like Frolov over a guy who constantly takes off-wing shots from behind the face-off circle. (Brownie points if you know who I’m talking about. Hint: his name is Sean Avery. I think he's the anti-Frolov.)

Sean Avery, the A-Fro.

He hasn’t progressed fast enough. Frolov entered the NHL in 2002 when he was 20 years old. He’s played in 4 NHL seasons and has increased his point total every season. I think one problem many people have is that they expect players to explode overnight, like Kopitar or Crosby. A much more typical story is one like Lubomir Visnosvky’s, where they struggle to adjust and then eventually find what works for them. Visnovsky took 4 seasons before he finally broke through; if Frolov follows this pattern, he should make a big leap this season.

Frolov may never what Kings’ fans ask of him, but I think what they’re asking is a little unrealistic. Maybe we should be focusing on what does do well instead of what he doesn’t. He’s under contract for the next 3 seasons at a very cap-friendly rate ($3 mil this year, $3.5 the next and $4 in two years) and he will again be one of our best forwards this season. He may never be the player we want him to be, but the player he is can be pretty damn good.

(This is neither here nor there, but Frolov apparently has a Myspace page. Under “Heroes,” it says, “My wife. Just Kidding.” I don’t know why, but it made me laugh.)

5 comments:

dbushik said...

Frolov is your typical Russian sniper. That isn't going to score him points with fans who think North American hockey and want everyone to be a power forward. Considering how I've heard Kings fans hope that everyone including Anson Carter would be the next Adam Deadmarsh, I think that describes the majority of them.

Looking at what he is instead of what he isn't, last year this is the criteria I set for Afro: he has to break 30 goals to be an effective player; if he breaks 40 he's a star player.

That was it. Goals. Period. He has to score or he's not pulling his weight. He ends up with 35 which places him above the passing 'C' grade, but put him shy of earning that 'A'.

This year I think is actually a little more critical for him. He should have linemates with better skills than Avery (which just killed me at times last year; you want him to pot 40 goals and you can't get anyone out there more skilled than Avery on his line?), and the expectations for the entire team have gone up.

My expectations for his performance is again roughly the same. Guy has to put the puck in the net or he's not doing his job.

The inconsistancy and lack of visible hustle are just functions of the kind of player he is. If he nets the goals, that isn't a problem.

Fairly good take on Forlov here. I hold a much better optinion of Avery as a player than you do, but it's good to see your past few posts on Frolov and Blake haven't fallen into the prototypical bitching too many fans fall into. Great to see you can judge players for what they are instead of what they are not.

Daniel said...

Not sure if you meant the Nidermayer slander the other way around. Scott was transitioning while Frolov had like 2-3 strides. He still caught up to him. Good goal, but not like he made Scott look foolish. Id have to say the opposite.

The Kings have a good core of young, fast forwards who will make teams weary of plays exactly like that. Frolov is no different, he will probably end up with a very similar tally when the season is over, yet the Kings still find a way to let in enough pucks to not get past the bouncer.

Ian said...

They do this all the time with goaltenders and I’m not sure why they don’t do it with skaters.

A few years back it wasn't uncommon for teams to rest their veteran skaters for the last few games. I think two things changed, though. First, the NHL got a lot more competitive, so playoff positioning became much, much more important. Second, the League apparently cracked down on the bogus disabled list shenanigans that went on for the last 10 games of the season.

But the main problem with resting guys like Frolov is they need the rest in the late middle of the season, and teams can't really afford to give up points in the standings. Despite the way fans see it, a slumping Frolov is usually better than whoever replaces him. Just having a dangerous player like him on the ice forces the other team to adjust.

RudyKelly said...

dbushik: That's an interesting thought on Frolov and goals, I never thought of that. I'd say he needs 40 for this season to be considered a success, wouldn't you say?

Daniel: I wouldn't call what I wrote about Niedermayer "slander." Perhaps libel? I was being a little fascetious, but I was more surprised that Frolov had room to actually make a move on that play; I just assumed that Nieds was going to catch him.

Ian: I get what you're saying about a guy like Frolov being important, but is he any more important than a guy like Alex Rodriguez, who will sit out occasionally just to get some rest? It's not like baseball is a bigger grind than hockey or anything. I think it's just one of those things that's just not done, and I don't see a real reason for it.

Ian said...

Rudy: Double the number of games means that any particular game is less important.

The Kings don't have enough offensive weapons to rest guys like Frolov. Few teams do.

Having been a Sharks fan through the Darryl Sutter era, I can tell you first-hand how other teams keyed in on the few Sharks skill players and dared Stephane Matteau, or Mike Ricci, or Murray Craven to beat them. It was a good gamble, usually.

That's what would happen if you sit Frolov for a game or two. And then you've maybe lost 4 points, 'cuz the other teams just sit on Cammalleri and Kopitar. Then you've got Scott Thornton and Derek Armstrong to supply your scoring. Good luck with that.