With management re-evaluation and coaching staff changes upon us, the Red Wings are preparing to embark on a long off-season. Detroit hopefully now realizes that cap space is an asset – which a lack of forced the club to move young forward Riley Sheahan. The Tomas Tatar trade opened up room to hand out extensions to golden boys Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi. Flying under the radar off that bunch comes Martin Frk. While it seems like it should be a no-brainer to bring back a twenty-four year-old on a cheap one year deal, there are a few red flags in bringing back the man with the funny last name.
“The theme going forward is the future” Ken Holland said on his future plans at locker-clean out. However, as WingsNation’s Nick Seguin pointed out, that might not be as easily said than done. Young forwards like Evgeny Svechnikov and Dominic Turgeon are ready to step into the line-up, with Michael Rasmussen right there as well. Roster spots aren’t just going to appear out of midair, with a plethora of bad contracts handicapping the team. Would it make sense to cut ties with Frk, in exchange for another young forward’s services? A lot of this comes down to whether or not Frk has peaked. Entering next season as a twenty-five year-old, his one dimensional play displays him being no more than a powerplay specialist, who can be an up-and-down player during 5-on-5.
It has been found that Frk heavily relies on the slap-shot, which makes him easy to read, resulting in little shot impact at 5-on-5. However, he’s become a major weapon on the power-play. One problem, it’s too predictable. Slow puck movement as Detroit prepares to set-up Frk for the one-timer hasn’t given him enough good looks.
Looking at his fit on the roster next season, it’s fair to assume David Booth is on his way out. If Holland is serious with his notion of getting young and modernizing the team, we’d have to think that means Luke Witkowski is Grand Rapids bound and the Luke Glendning trade talks are re-visited. That would leave room for the aforementioned prospects, as well as Frk – with one sitting in the press box.
The idea of Frk having already peaked is a fair estimate, but there is the chance he can squeak out a spot next season, and provide more value than say someone like Witkowski. The Red Wings parting ways with John Torchetti plays a role in this. Torchetti who was the coach for the powerplay, is now out, and his predecessor will have a major impact on his usage. Playing at 5-on-4 for 19% of his TOI, how Frk fits in to a new scheme affects the long term plan. So should he be re-signed? The answer is yes but next season should be the determining factor to re-up him once again. With more young players expected to be on the way in the 2019-20 season, Frk will need to prove in 2018-19 that he can make do with limited 5-on-5 ice-time and be consistently effective with a new special teams coach and better personnel (Rasmussen net-front, Hronek PP QB).
We saw flashes of a terrorizing shot, but the full-story of what is to come is unknown. Torchetti’s replacement and the alleged injection of young players moving forward could be the deciding factor. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait and see, leaving us saying, “Oh Frk this team!”