Report: Michael Frolik drawing intense interest during UFA courting period; still talking to Jets

Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports

27-year-old pending unrestricted free agent Michael Frolik is generating a tonne of reported interest on the first day of the free agent courting period, and has met with as many as six teams, according to a report from Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press. Among the teams believed to be interested in acquiring Frolik are the Calgary Flames, Sportsnet’s Damien Cox reports.

Though Frolik is generating a high volume of inquiries and doesn’t appear to lack for suitors, he’s still reportedly engaged with Winnipeg and could still conceivably return. Of course, the closer we get to July 1, the less likely that becomes.

Should the Jets allow Frolik to walk?

It’s a difficult question, and depends somewhat on the cost of signing Frolik to a long-term extension. At 27-years-old, Frolik is a desirable asset, and he’s a very high-quality two-way forward.

His HERO chart, for example, is suggestive of a player with a high level of defensive and play-driving value, who produces offense at the rate of a credible second-line forward:

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 3.42.39 PM

A player with Frolik’s defensive value is extremely difficult to replace, but an internal cap team like Winnipeg does need to be cautious about contributing too much money to a forward that has never topped 50 points in a season…

The dollar making sense in the case of Frolik is what Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff focused on when he met with the media on Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s NHL draft.

“There’s always that opportunity to sit down with Michael (Frolik),” Cheveldayoff said on Thursday. “We’ve had good dialogue with him and his representatives but certainly we’d love to sit down with Michael at some point. He’s been with us, he’s part of our family, we know what he brings to the table, he knows what we bring to the table. It’s just about whether there’s a fit on the contractual side of things.”

With players like Nikolaj Ehlers, Nicholas Petan, and Joel Armia likely to push for spots on the Jets main roster, the club could conceivably replace Frolik internally and with a player on an entry-level contract. None of those players are likely to have the defensive value Frolik would bring next season, but a budget conscious club can’t be paying a player of Frolik’s ilk $3.5 million or more per season. 

We’ll have to see how this plays out, but we’re probably justified in believing that the reported level of interest Frolik is generating during the courting period augers poorly for the Winnipeg’s chances of retaining the play-driving winger.