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Numbers Game: Rangers Bring in Frolov

Scott Cullen
7/27/2010 1:13:02 PM
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One of the better free agent forwards on the market signed a bargain-rate one-year deal with the New York Rangers.

Numbers Game looks at the Blueshirts' acquiring Alexander Frolov.

The Rangers Get: LW Alexander Frolov.

Frolov, 28, is a talented winger with good size (6-foot-2, 204 pounds) and an abundance of skill, but has also seen his point totals decrease for three straight seasons and hasn't been the most consisent performer, possibly providing some explanation for why he was still available as an unrestricted free agent in the last week of July.

A two-time 30-goal scorer, Frolov immediately becomes the Rangers' second most-talented forward, behind Marian Gaborik.  In the last five seasons, Frolov has averaged 26 goals and 58 points, totals that would have ranked him second on the Rangers in 2009-2010.

However, there is that matter of declining point totals to consider.

In 2006-2007, Frolov scored a career-high 35 goals and 71 points, during a season in which he played a career-high 19:56 per game, including 4:28 per game on the power play, scoring 28 points with the man advantage and 40 at even strength. 

(For reference sake, note that Frolov played 5:09 per game on the power play in 2005-2006, the penalty-filled first year after the lockout.)

Frolov's role with the man advantage has decreased ever since, sinking to 2:17 last season, his lowest average PP time since playing 2:16 per game during his rookie season in 2002-2003 and, as a result, Frolov only scored 13 power play points last season, which left him with 38 even-strength points.  

As a player with his point-producing pedigree, Frolov wasn't being put in the best position to score by the Kings.  He was relegated to the second power play unit and spent much of his even-strength time on a line with Michal Handzus; a solid veteran two-way pivot, but not a game-breaking scorer by any means.

The Rangers have an opportunity to rectify the treatment Frolov received in Los Angeles and to potentially reap the rewards if they can get the most out of his skills. 

Putting Frolov on the number one line with Gaborik and Vaclav Prospal for example and, at the very least, getting him on the first power play unit should give the Rangers a legitimate 25-goal, 60-point threat on left wing.  

Since there are only about a dozen left wingers in the entire league that managed that kind of production last season, the Rangers' investment of one-year and $3-million seems like a very wise low-risk signing.

Even if Frolov is slotted on the Rangers' second line, the key to realizing his potential is that he gets significant time on the power play.  His skill level warrants it.

Since the Kings were under-utilizing Frolov in the first place, it's not like his absence leaves a gaping hole in the lineup, but the Kings can't just assume that internal candidates are going to be able to make up for the 19 goals and 51 points that Frolov provided last season.

Ultimately, the Rangers are better today with an economical signing of a legitimate top-six forward and the Kings aren't as good as the team that finished the 2009-2010 season.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.

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