The Departure: Michael Frolik

Michael Frolik Signs with the Calgary Flames –

Fans react to Michael Frolik and his departure from the Winnipeg Jets.  Why did he go?  Why couldn’t Kevin Cheveldayoff sign him?  What happened?

Fan reaction towards Kevin Cheveldayoff and his ongoing negotiations with Michael Frolik got turned up early.  The day before free agent frenzy on Canada day Drew Stafford was signed to a two-year deal.  The subject picked up steam with Winnipeg Jets fans.  If that wasn’t enough, Frolik would sign with the Calgary Flames for 4.3 million a year for five years and the fan reactions started boiling over!

It has been a long road if we’re talking Michael Frolik and the Winnipeg Jets. Through only two seasons of play, there was enough drama in that short period. Barely missing arbitration last year, the inability to come to an agreement, and all the rumours have made this seem like forever.

The Winnipeg Jets acquired Frolik from the Chicago Blackhawks.  They had to give up a 3rd and 5th round pick to get him.  Chicago needed to shed salary and Michael Frolik was chosen to be moved.  Being a restricted free agent at the end of his contract with good upside, the picks were worth it.  I’m not going to say talks broke down but they didn’t come to an agreement and brushed up against the dreaded arbitration hearing.  One year for a salary of $3.3 million dollars was the agreement before it went to a hearing which was a fair price for his services.  The only issue being was he had the option to walk after the season.  Guess we know how that ended.

What happened?  Why couldn’t the Winnipeg Jets retain his services?  Who really knows?  General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, his staff, Michael Frolik, and his agent Allan Walsh are likely the few that do.

There was wide-spread talk about Michael Frolik’s wife not liking Winnipeg and chatter of him wanting to go play for the Montreal Canadiens.  Was Kevin Cheveldayoff being unreasonable?  I doubt it was a teammate issue.  Frolik seemed well like by his team from a fan perspective I’d say.  He wasn’t one for off ice shenanigans and always worked hard.  Can it be as simple as he wanted to test the free market and get himself paid?

Term and dollars didn’t line up between the two camps that much is obvious now.  Kevin Cheveldayoff has many assets to sign in the coming years: Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, and Adam Lowry, not to mention Andrew Ladd.  Do they extend the captain?  How long?  What about Dustin Byfuglien?  There are many other prospects and possibilities for resigning down the road as well.  That cash down the road may already be spoken for.

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There is typically a narrow window of opportunity in most professional athletes careers to cash in so to speak where they’ve proven themselves to be worth a certain amount and they can capitalize on a contract with longer term and money.   When an athlete has multiple teams in a free market interested in their services, it results in a win for the athlete.  This was Michael Frolik’s time to get paid.

There’s no guarantee for an athlete and these opportunities are taken to secure their future financially.  Sometimes they stay with their team.  Sometimes they move on.  It’s just business.  One cannot blame Michael Frolik for ceasing this chance to put serious money in his pocket.

The questions are still amongst some Winnipeg Jets fans is why didn’t he stay and why couldn’t we sign him?  Drew Stafford signed for a slightly higher cap hit. Why didn’t they just pay Michael Frolik that money instead of Stafford?

This one just shook down to frugal management and bad timing.  We don’t know what Kevin Cheveldayoff was offering.  We do know it wasn’t enough.  Credit Allan Walsh also for ensuring that he and his client got exactly what they were looking for: Maximum dollar for long-term.  They have probably been setting up for this since before the near miss with arbitration.

Assuming Kevin Cheveldayoff knew they were looking to get paid in the end, why didn’t he move him for other assets?  This was a bit of a gamble on his part for sure.  I’m sure he would have liked Frolik to stay longer though.  Using him for a year at 1.9 million and another at 3.3 million wasn’t such a bad thing.  They made the playoffs for the first time and Michael Frolik was a big part of that.  He improved the on ice product.  Sometimes you play it straight and get burned. It’s just as possible that Michael Frolik had his mind made up from day one that he wasn’t going to stay.  This may have been their plan all along.  It certainly doesn’t mean Frolik was against staying in Winnipeg.  He just wasn’t going to do it for less than maximum value.

I’m not prepared to call this a huge mistake by Kevin Cheveldayoff.  Too many factors go into a scenario like this.  Trying to take advantage of Chicago Blackhawks salary troubles to bolster his team was a solid move.  There is never a guarantee a player will sign with you later on.  You have to believe in your team and hope he does too.

January 12, 2014-Chevy-13

If Kevin Cheveldayoff offered him a fair deal and Michael Frolik opted to sign for more money elsewhere, I can’t be mad at either side.  Its a business and the Winnipeg Jets still have lots more of it to do.  Throwing money at Frolik isn’t necessarily the answer.  This is the real world and that’s somebody else’s money.

Sad to see a player like Frolik to leave.  Being in the Western Conference, Winnipeg Jets fan are going to see him a few times over the next five years. Regardless, I wish him all the best in his future.

Go Jets Go!

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for the voice of reason here. The guy is gone. As my mom would say, build a bridge and get over it! Sure it sucks, but life goes on. Rehashing and blaming are not productive nor will it bring Mr. Frolik back. Look forward!

    • Todd Leroux says

      Agreed.

      What’s more, if his wife didn’t like Wpg, then what is she going to think about Cowtown? It sure ain’t Montreal.

      Can’t blame the players wanting to max out in Bettman’s privatize the profits and socialize the costs NHL (from an owner’s perspective).

      I don’t see the Jets as a significantly lesser team because this subtraction.

      Go Jets Go!

      • Mitch Kasprick says

        For me, the Burmistrov signing kind of eased the pain of losing Frolik … I liked Michael Frolik but it wasn’t like Gretzky going to Los Angeles …. I’ve lived through the loss of Hedberg, both Nilssons, Ruskowski, Preston, Selanne etc so I’m certainly not going to cry over the loss of Michael Frolik.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      My only issue is he should have been traded long before it got to this point … what was going to change?

  2. Derek Curtis says

    Would have been nice to get something. I Think he decided not to move him at the deadline and gambled to keep him for the playoff push. Probably not a bad decision either though. Paid off, they made it. Threw the fans a bone lol

  3. Aneegadole says

    Things being equal I would have preferred we resign Frolik over Stafford. However, there are a couple of reasons why I could see GM Chevy not matching the contract that the Flames signed him to. Frolik is 27 years old. He is right at his prime in his career. He absolutely deserves to be paid as such. In the economics of the NHL, Frolik is worth 4.75M right now. However, in three years he will be 30 and well on his way to diminished play. The Flames will still have him for two more years after that ,still at 4.75M. A little less value, especially as he begins to be relegated to third line minutes . Add in the large number of prospects which the Jets will begin to graduate into the majors in the next two + years ,all players who will be a fraction of that cost . Add in that expansion is coming, which means having a limited number of protected players for the expansion draft .Would you protect Frolik ?Absolutely !But doing so may leave a younger prospect /recent graduate unprotected . Is that a major concern now ,certainly not ,but Chevy has proven to be a long term strategist ,I can not help but wonder if that had at least a minor role in his decision making ?

    I will still miss the versatility and reliable play of Frolik. Good signing by the Flames ,they are doing everything they can to avoid being this year’s version of last year’s Avs .

    • Derek Curtis says

      Yes I’m not buying into a Stafford better view either. Comparable in terms of age/point production but two very different players. Frolik is great up and down the line up but will likely regress onto a 3rd line roll as you say. His defensive game and energy is top notch. He can score but I would put him in that “goal scorer” catagory. Maybe the only advantage to Stafford is his scoring touch, but it’s nothing special either IMO.

      I always kind of compared him to Bender Ghallager for contract money sakes. Adding some money for the market demand and depnding on the team. I’m sure Mtl would have to pay a player a little less to come play for them than the Jets would at this point. I figure Chevy was likely 3-4yrs at 4-5mil offer. Can’t be upset with Frolik taking extra term to financially secure himself. Or at Chevy for staying the course.
      Expansion is a whole other ball game lol

  4. Rob Carson says

    I like Stafford much more than Frolik. Stafford was IMO a force that can score. Frolik was ok but I think numerous players can do what he can do in the Jets system right now. Anything over 3 million was over paying him. And with the chances Frolik had and the players he was playing with, 25 goals should have been very doable. He was not a goal scorer, and everyone in the entire league plays two way hockey now. I’m not sad to see him go in the least. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about him. He was ok but not some gem of a player like the media talked about him. His type of player is a dime a dozen.

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