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Other Options: Alexander Frolov

The Los Angeles Kings acquired a new first line LW today in the person of ex-Oiler Ryan Smyth. Smyth, incidentally, was acquired for a package consisting of Kyle Quincey, Tom Preissing, and a 5th round pick. No wonder Los Angeles didn’t put a serious bid in on Dany Heatley.

Anyways, there have been a pair of rumours around for a while:

  • Dean Lombardi is not averse to moving Alexander Frolov
  • Sheldon Souray might be interested in waiving his NMC to go to L.A, and Dean Lombardi may be very interested in acquiring him

Added to those two rumours is the Oilers’ perceived need for a new winger to replace Dustin Penner on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Those three factors make a trade between Edmonton and Los Angeles at least a possible fit. What would the Oilers be getting in Frolov?

Taken three spots after the Oilers nabbed Alexei Mikhnov, Alexander Frolov has developed into a goal-scoring winger who has scored between 21 and 35 goals over the last five seasons. Here are his numbers; first his boxcar statistics for last year, followed by a selection of advanced statistics for his previous two seasons:


Alexander Frolov

#24 / Left Wing / Los Angeles Kings



Jun 19, 1982

Selected 20th overall, 2000

2008 - 09 77 32 27 59 -6 30 12 1 1 2 176 18.2

QualComp QualTeam EVPTS/60 EVGD/60 Corsi/60 PPPTS/60 ZoneStart
2008 - 09 1st 5th 1.62 -0.64 +2.4 6.18 -15
2007 - 08 13th 5th 2.76 +0.30 -1.3 3.33 --

We see a fascinating difference in how two good NHL coaches used this player here.  Marc Crawford used Frolov in much the same manner as he once used his horses in Vancouver; as soft-minutes scorers.  Terry Murray, on the other hand, has used Frolov in more of a power-vs.-power role, albeit one that saw him slightly sheltered in terms of where he started on the ice (keep in mind that L.A. had a better record than Edmonton territorially; in other words, -15 in L.A. is much closer to breakeven than -15 in Edmonton).

It isn't shown here, but Murray also sent Frolov out on the pnealty-kill; he averaged 12 seconds a game in 2007-08, whereas in 2008-09 he averaged 2:25.  The jump in his powerplay performance is probably somewhat attributable to Murray as well; Frolov saw his powerplay time per game reduced (although he remained on the top unit), but the Kings powerplay jumped 2 percentage points in effectiveness and I tend to think that Frolov rode that wave to some degree.

After taking this look, I'm less convinced that Frolov is a great fit in Edmonton.  Sure, he's relatively young and still developing but a) he's not that far from free agency and b) he strikes me as a much better fit on a soft minutes line than on a tough minutes line.  Granted, Murray has already started the transformation, and it could be that Frolov will take a big step forward next year (similar to the even-strength improvement Dustin Penner took in his second season under MacTavish) but aside from the fact that he's a sniper he doesn't seem to be a significant upgrade over Patrick O'Sullivan or Dustin Penner.  An upgrade, sure, but probably not a big enough upgrade to warrant pursuing him.