The Red Wings entered the 2012 NHL draft in less than exciting fashion; earlier in the season the Red Wings had used their first round pick in a three way trade with Tampa and Colorado to bring Kyle Quincey back into the fold. This made Detroit’s first selection in the draft come in the second round, at 49th overall, where they took Martin Frk, and no one used his last name as a pun, ever. What Detroit got was a lurching 6’0”, 203 lb right winger out of the Czech Republic who has developed slowly, but is turning into a strong prospect.
Position: Right Wing
Born: October 5th, 1993 in Pelhřimov, CZE (22 y/o)
Weight: 203 lbs
High hopes were put on Martin Frk when he was initially drafted out of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. He dropped in the draft due to an injury sustained during the 2011-12 season, but the following season Frk played right wing on Halifax’s top line with Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon en route to a championship. During this time he scored 84 points in 56 games. The future looked bright for Martin Frk in the Red Wings organization with talk that suggested he was a surefire middle six winger, or perhaps even a top line player if he developed well.
Unfortunately, Frk’s first two pro seasons that followed Halifax’s championship run were disconcerting, to say the least. The right winger was bounced back and forth between the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye, where he would play well, and the Griffins in the AHL, where he would go positively invisible. Suddenly, the narrative changed from hopeful to one questioning whether Frk just rode Drouin’s coattails in Halifax and if the term “bust” could be applied to a second-round pick who had never played an NHL game. First and foremost amongst Frk’s criticism was his skating; the guy kind of lurches and slumps around the ice, and his form certainly could be much cleaner. There were also questions whether he could complete the transition from the Q’s high-flying offensive style of play (the Q is notorious for gaudy offensive numbers) to a more rounded pro-game. And with Anthony Mantha coming into the pipeline, Martin Frk was brushed under the rug a little bit. Just another winger in the system, no longer a prized commodity.
Then, this past AHL season happened. Frk moved through the season with something to prove and established himself as a top-six offensive weapon on the Griffins, finishing fifth on the team in points (44) and second on the team in goals (27) in only 67 games. To put this in context, he finished one point behind Anthony Mantha in team scoring while playing seven more games. That is pretty exceptional considering how highly most view Mantha. Come playoffs, Frk only managed to play four games, but in that time he also put up four points. It has taken longer than most would have liked and it has been bumpier than expected, but Martin Frk is a solid pro player in the AHL who looks once again like an NHL caliber player.
Finding highlights of AHL players can be tough, but here is a video of Frk late in the 2015 season, just as he was really starting to come on, courtesy of our own Slapsh0t Goal.
Frk looks like a player who is certainly trending in the right direction for the Red Wings organization, and if he continues to play well and develop as he has in the last year or so then he deserves a good look by the Red Wings organization. Personally, I would place him in line behind Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha on the forward depth chart, but it would be a tough pick for me between Martin Frk and Tyler Bertuzzi. The two have different play styles, with Frk looking to develop into a pure and honest-to-goodness offensive weapon. He is certainly a player we should be getting more eager to see in the NHL, and he deserves to be in the consideration as one of our best prospects once again.
(Best pun in the comments wins 20 million “Winging It” points.)