Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sport
Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Michael Frolik.
This isn't a repeat of the Nick Leddy piece, where I lament how critical I've been of him and admit how good he actually is and can be. No, I've been a fan of Michael Frolik for some time, through his complete inability to finish and his days stuck in the Joel Quenneville doghouse.
However, even prior to this year, Frolik wasn't a guy that you can look at and say that he is absolutely crucial to his team's success. The Blackhawks probably could have dealt him some time last year and saw similar results to the ones they finished with. But this year is different, for the Hawks obviously, but for Frolik as well. The most important thing is that the Hawks finally have a role for him.
When he was acquired from the Florida Panthers, Michael Frolik was originally brought on to play a little center and add a little pop to the offense. Those center dreams ended extremely quickly (and rightfully so), but many were still expecting 20 goals, minimum, from Frolik. After all, he'd posted two 20+ goal seasons with the Cats.
We have yet to see anything close to that type of offensive output from Frolik to this point in his time wearing the Indian Head. And that's perfectly okay. After just 24 points in his first 91 games as a Chicago Blackhawk, the staff finally understood where he belonged. In a defensive role.
Frolik's inefficiencies on offense have always overshadowed what he brings to the table defensively. On defense, Frolik is a standout. He's excellent in backchecking and is a terrific penalty killer, as we've seen on the Blackhawks' PK unit of Frolik & Marcus Kruger this season. Though he doesn't generate much offensively, he's also outstanding on the forecheck.
Add that to the 110 percent effort you're going to get on every shift, and you have an extremely important player in the lineup. Seriously, if you aren't already watching Michael Frolik on a given shift, watch him. Dude works his ass off every time out, regardless of the situation.
Lord knows it'd be nice to see Frolik's effort and defensive play get rewarded with some offensive output on the stat sheet. But with the role the Blackhawks currently have him in, that's likely not coming soon. Which is perfectly fine. Frolik is excelling in his role and has been a large reason why the Hawks have had so much success early on this season.