Born: Pelhrimov, Czech Republic, on October 25, 1993
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 194 lbs.
Position: Right Wing
Contract: RFA, earned $650,000 last season
Games Played: 68
Goals: 11 (5 on the power play)
Assists: 14 (4 on the power play)
Points: 25 (9 on the power play)
Despite it’s truthfulness, I got tired of hearing “Martin Frk is the (very) poor man’s Ovechkin” over the course of the 2017-18 season. Basically, it felt like a more voice-y way of saying “He’s a power play specialist who is best at taking shots from the top of the circle.” Despite my trepidation with hearing the same thing the same way over and over again, this is essentially how Frk was used this campaign: a power play specialist who otherwise spent his time on a spare-parts fourth line with Luke Glendening and a rotating cast of David Booth or whoever else was disappointing at the moment in the season.
There were exceptions to this usage, of course. Frk started the season on Larkin’s left, opposite Mantha, pulling second line duties. His minutes were still heavily managed in this role. It wasn’t until nine games into the season, when Andreas Athanasiou finally signed a contract, that Frk was sent down to the fourth line. He spent some stretches as a healthy scratch from there, but when Blashill had the line blender rotating at a million rpm’s fans could spot Frk once again on Larkin’s wing.
What He Did vs. Expectations
Marty Frk got the nod this year mostly to smash pucks from the top of the circle on the power play, and fill in on the second line while Athanasiou got his contract sorted out. The Wings were not a good team this year, and everybody knew it going into the whole thing, so the Wing’s power play did not have the loftiest expectations placed on it. That being said, Frk was third in power play goals on a team with a bad power play, behind only Mantha (9) and Tatar (8). That’s not so bad for this Red Wings team, even if it is not good around the league. Since the expectation was that the Detroit power play would be pretty rotten, I would say Frk did decent enough.
Defensively, #42 got better over the course of the season; in the early goings on the season, it felt like he gave up a lot of scoring opportunities, especially once he was demoted to the fourth line. Later in the season his defensive lapses weren’t as apparent, so give him and Blashill credit for improving his game in that regard. Defensive responsibility carries a lot of weight with the Red Wings’ organization, so this improvement suggests to me that Frk will be given the benefit of the doubt come training camp in the fall.
Otherwise, Frk didn’t stand out a whole lot throughout the season. He was one of my fan favorites to watch on the ice, because when the breaks did go his way, he was typically cool and fun to watch, but those breaks did not come around as frequently as I would have liked. With 25 points on the year, it would have been great to see just a few more of those magic Frk moments to get him over the 30 point hump, but 25 points as a first year role-player with limited minutes in the NHL isn’t a total failure by any means, either.
Fun fact: the Wings went 16-7 this year in games where Frk scored a point.
Final Grade: B
I feel bad handing this one out. B’s are the easiest grades to give, unless you are the B’s and just got embarrassed by Tampa Bay in the playoffs. Then you get an F, which is different from a Frk, who gets a B because of some weak play in stretches. That sounds damning enough to deserve lower than a B, but Frk was also a guy most people had written off before the season had started. He is a role player who did his role, but he realistically could have done it a little better. Defensively, he grew a lot over the course of the season, which should earn him some more trust next year when he can hopefully break out into a 20-goal season.
How would you grade Marty Frk?
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