Alexander Frolov 2

A-Fro Stylin’

The preseason finally kicked in to gear today with the prospects emerging victorious over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-4 on the back of two goals by Evgeny Grachev. To be honest, it was great just being able to follow some live hockey again after a long off-season.

Also in the news today was the arrival of Alexander Frolov at the Rangers’ practice facility, just in time for him to be the feature of today’s Ranger Countdown.

Player Profile
After seven seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, Alexander Frolov found himself an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. The Kings had shown only modest interest in bringing back the Russian winger, and for his part Frolov didn’t appear to keen on returning either.

It hadn’t been the best of divorces. Claims of poor motivation on one side and lack of opportunity of the other, no doubt dampened the enthusiasm for another go round on either side, but relatively limited interest from the free agent market certainly didn’t help the player’s cause.

Ultimately it would be Glen Sather, who has never shown any fear of going after players with questionable character, that would offer him a one year deal for $3M. Frolov accepted and now finds himself with an opportunity to compete for a spot on the top line alongside Marian Gaborik.

Coming off his worst season point-wise since his sophomore season in 2003-04, the 6-2 216lb left wing has indicated he has something to prove. While his claims of lost opportunity may be valid, there’s a suggestion that he may have not have deserved more ice time.

Turning up to camp as the last veteran, also doesn’t suggest a player who is hell bent on proving a point, and while some of it may be cultural, you have to wonder whether the Rangers may have simply brought in another Ales Kotalik.

Taking a look at it from another angle, the Rangers sure could use some secondary scoring. Only Marian Gaborik surpassed the 20 goal mark last season, and while he’s likely to win the Rangers scoring race once again this year, the team is unlikely to go very far without someone else to shoulder some of the burden.

Frolov has also proven he can score on the PP – career high of 12 just two seasons ago – and he can kill penalties, and even has seven short handed goals in his career. The ability to play in all situations is always a plus from your top line players.

Whether it makes sense to pair him with Gaborik remains to be seen. There’s good arguments for creating a potent scoring line early in the season, as well as attempting to distribute some of that as the year goes on. There’s also no guarantee that Frolov will have chemistry with any particular player, but on paper at least, it would seem to make sense to put the three Europeans – including Vinny Prospal – together.

2009-10 Statistics
Team: Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Stats: 19 goals, 32 assists and 26 penalty minutes in 81 games

Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 26 goals, 34 assists and 30 penalty minutes in 82 games

Fun Fact
In the 2006-07 season, Kings GM Dean Lombardi made a deal with Frolov, offering to read War and Peace if the Russian played with more on-ice perseverance. The Russian – who has read Tolstoy’s epic twice – went on to career highs with 35 goals and 71 points.

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