Now that mid February is upon us, teams have begun swapping players around, and some moves have already brought some significant pieces from the Eastern Conference to the nuts-to-butts West. Anaheim has re-aquired a personal favorite player of mine Francois Beauchemin to bolster their blue line in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, whose job is apparently to just get traded. Mr. Carrie Underwood- Mike Fisher- has defied the laws of insufferable cuteness and been sent to Nashville for picks, possibly a first rounder depending on the Preds' finish this year. And last but not least, our Men of Four Feathers sent Dale Tallon's pet project Jack Skille (and his talents) to South Beach in exchange for Michael Frolik.
While GM Stan Bowman has been stating that Frolik helps to solidify the center position, he's taken all of 12 draws this year and Quenneville is already yammering about his versatility- which means Q will use him anywhere and everywhere. Personally, I like this trade, it's low risk, as the Hawks acquired a top-6 player for a bottom-6 player for only marginally more salary (pro-rated from here on in) regardless of where he plays. But that's the $1.2 million dollar cap hit question, isn't it Mr. Fels? Where do you see Frolik slotting in at least to start this weekend, and of the three moves out west so far, which do you think has the potential to make the greatest impact going forward for their new teams?
Well, let's get to the Frolik move first, as that's the first priority. You and I were talking yesterday, in my never ending pursuit to keep you from being productive at work, and I said to you the following: "When I watch Sharp and Hossa together, I can't help but think they need someone on that line who can dangle, hold the puck and draw defenders, and be able to dish and make plays." Before I had even finished, you concluded I was angling for a pursuit to bring Kris Versteeg back home, which indeed I was.
Well, in essence, that's what they've done, although cheaper and without the dumb sunglasses (I assume) and bad rapping. I'll admit to not having seen that much of Frolik, but from what i have and the numbers he already probably has one of the best set of hands on the team. Looking at a +10 and a +2 this year on an awful Florida team, he can't be totally defensively helpless. But he clearly can bring something resembling what Versteeg did, though no penalty killing. I'm pretty excited to see how it looks.
However, there are some red flags, too. Panther fans have alluded to a disappearing act this year. Now, I'm hoping this is just due to being jaded by all the losing, but we won't know until he gets here. Secondly, he hasn't played center this year and even though that's where Stan wants him, someone else is going to have to take his faceoffs because he just hasn't. He doesn't solve that problem, he would have to play with Sharp to do that. But other teams do that, Jarome Iginla takes most of his line's draws. There's also the problem of Frolik not playing in any game nearly as intense as the last 28 he'll see here since the Cats made that playoff push a couple years ago, and this is the West which is far more physical, we just don't know how he'll react. Thirdly, I'll be shocked if Q starts him at center, which means more of Kopecky at center and we all know where that road ends.
All in all though, I think it's a very good deal. They can talk about Skille's skill set all they want, but he hasn't been a prolific scorer in college, or in the AHL, so I can't see how he'll be one here. He strikes me as being a very effective third liner one day, and Frolik can be a top 6 I think. That's a win. Throw in a a possible future NHL goalie, it gets better. It'll also depend on how good Frolik is the rest of the year and then what that will mean he'll want as a restricted free agent, but those are questions for later.
As far as biggest impact? It'll probably Fisher. The Preds desperately needed a center, and Fisher is certainly a good 2nd line center who can moonlight as a #1 in Nashville where they aren't terribly creative as it is. He's more expensive though, and signed for a while, and you wonder what the Preds overall budget is and how much he'll take up, because it isn't at the cap. Beauchemin is a nice pick up for the Ducks, but the blue line still needs help and with Hiller ouchy I'm not even sure it matters. We shall see.
The balcony is now closed. Milk Boy, save us Milk Boy!
Almost Forgot: We're now two days away from Chicago Pucks Cancer at The Bottom Lounge. It's going to be stupid fun, so be there and be stupid with us.