The Winnipeg Jets avoided their team-elected salary arbitration hearing with Michael Frolik by re-signing the restricted free agent forward to a one-year deal worth $3.3 million. The two parties were set to meet in arbitration on July 31.
Frolik is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his NHL career after spending the previous three seasons playing in more of a defensive role for the Chicago Blackhawks. The 26-year-old Czech Republic native posted 42 points including 15 goals in 81 games. It was his highest total since his second season in the league in 2009-10 with the Florida Panthers.
The former 10th overall pick played in all situations for the Jets and average 16:40 of ice time. He was also one of Winnipeg's most reliable players in possession, which has been one of the hallmarks of his young career. According to ExtraSkater.com, Frolik posted a 4.3 percent relative Corsi, meaning the club was generally possessing the puck better with Frolik on the ice than without.
Frolik is getting a bit of a raise from the Jets after his last deal came with a cap hit of $2.3 million. He'll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this deal, but Allan Walsh, Frolik's agent, has been making the rounds saying that Frolik hopes to get a long-term deal with the Jets.
Frolik's agent "our sole objective is a long-term deal with Winnipeg. Michael would love to sign a long-term contract there." #nhljets— gary lawless (@garylawless) July 29, 2014
He'll be eligible to be signed to an extension after January 1, 2015.
A veteran of 430 NHL games, Frolik has had an interesting career arc. As a rookie, he posted 21 goals and 45 points, which remains his career high. He also scored 21 goals the following season. Ever since, that scoring touch has somewhat eluded Frolik as his point totals dropped precipitously in the following years.
In Winnipeg, he has a good situation to be more productive. He's given more overall responsibility with the Jets, more similar to his time with the Panthers than the Blackhawks. If last season was any indication, he may be able to produce at a higher clip. If he combines that with strong defensive skills, then the Jets have a pretty solid player that they should lock up for multiple years.
The $3.3 million price tag appears a bit high, which is going to make things interesting for the next negotiation when the Jets try to get Frolik locked down to a longer-term deal, if they choose to do so. In Winnipeg, they really can't afford to lose players that contribute because, if the last few years are any indication, they aren't going to be getting much by way of outside help.