If Alex Frolov was fifteen years younger, perhaps an Amber Alert would have been sent out. Teams of policemen would have been assembled to talk to the family about where young Alex may have ventured off to by himself, or worst case scenario, may have even been kidnapped. But this case is a little bit different—Alex Frolov is alive and well, and is making pretty good money to play a sport that he loves. My only question is, where did he go?
After strongly opposing his signing during the summer, the preseason gave me something to smile about as Frolov showed great chemistry with Marian Gaborik. But even when he was playing without him he still looked good. With Gaborik going down to injury, I did not bat an eye because I figured he would still be able to maintain his play. Maintain what, exactly? I do not know, because in the two games he played with Gaborik he did not look so hot.
The fact is, Frolov has been a missing-persons case since opening night. He started the season registering an assist in each of the first two games then went silent on the score sheet for two when he scored his first goal of the season, which was on a lucky bounce in itself. Frolov came down on a two-on-one in a game against Colorado and by the time he was near the crease he attempted to pass the puck and it hit off the defenseman’s skate and went into the net past Craig Anderson. Fluke goal #1.
His next goal came two night later in a game against Boston. With the puck bouncing all over the place, Frolov would get lucky. A shot was stopped by the Bruins goaltender and bounced up in the air, and with a lucky swing, Frolov batted the puck out of mid-air and into the net. Fluke goal #2.
Those are the only two times this season that Frolov has found his way onto the goals section of the stat sheet. He has not once shown anything at all that would make me think he is worth being on this team. I am not going to complain about his $3 million salary, because what he got was fair at the time—fair if he scores 25 goals this season, something the Rangers need him to do. But there is not one thing he has done this season that could not have been matched by a cheaper, younger forward from Hartford, such as Dale Weise had he not broken his hand.
Frolov is currently on pace for around 15 goals and 40 points. The Rangers can only live with those 40 points if 30 of them are goals (not likely), and if 15 goals is all he nets this season, then the Rangers are going to finish right where they did last season, out of the playoff picture. Comparisons have been drawn between him and Chris Higgins. These can be looked at partially, because both struggled to score. But at least Higgins had decent speed, a good work ethic, and was great on the penalty kill. Frolov’s skating ability has not caught my attention, his worth ethic is (obviously) questionable, and he does not kill penalties.
I think better comparisons can be drawn to Nikolai Zherdev, as in he is a player who has a tremendous amount of talent but only uses it from time to time. But so far this season, aside from two lucky goals, what has Frolov really shown us? Has he even created scoring chances? What we have here may be another case of a reclamation project gone wrong. The 30-goal scorer who the Rangers thought they were acquiring only put up 19 last year, yet we automatically expect him to correct it. Maybe it’s our fault. Nevertheless, I am not expecting 30 goals from him and never did. But 25 is not too much to ask, and if we don’t ask it, then we might as well not even bother watching this season.