What is the Winnipeg Jets Michael Frolik worth?
Recently the Jets have put Mark Scheifele in between Evander Kane and Michael Frolik. Of the three players, Frolik has probably been garnering the least amount of attention. Scheifele is the first draft pick of Jets 2.0 and consequently, is a player that fans have an endless degree of interest in. To the left side, Evander Kane is a polarizing player with goal scoring abilities that many desire, but can only imagine possessing. Then there is Frolik. The former first round pick had designs on a career that would see him as a point-producer, when drafted by Florida tenth overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. After an impressive rookie season where he produced 45 points in 79 games, the Czech native has not yet reached that total a second time, and saw his primary role change following a trade to the Chicago Blackhawks where he helped the team win a Stanley Cup.
With this summer’s trade to Winnipeg, Jets fans were hoping Frolik would help on the penalty kill and would improve the team’s depth on the wing. Instead, Frolik has not been counted on as much on the penalty kill as some anticipated, and while he has successfully improved the team’s depth on the wings, he is now playing a significant role on the team’s second line with the aforementioned Scheifele and Kane.
Frolik is a pending restricted free agent (RFA), which means he is not under contract for next season and to retain his rights the Jets will have to tender a qualify offer to him in the summer. It is probably a foregone conclusion that the team will tender him a qualifying offer because if the team chooses to forego that option then Frolik will be granted unrestricted free agency and have the freedom to sign wherever he wishes.
Tendering a qualifying offer merely allows the team to retain Frolik’s player rights; after such an offer is made–and we can assume for the purposes of this analysis that Frolik will not accept– the team can either sign him to a contract extension or the parties can head to arbitration.
Arbitration likely has some appeal for Frolik. The winger only has one season remaining (next season) before he is a UFA (he will have accrued seven years under contract thereby making him a UFA) and this limits the contract awarded in arbitration to a maximum of a one-year term. Therefore, Frolik can simply take the team to arbitration and receive whatever the arbitrator determines is his fair market value.
Alternatively, Frolik may determine that he is happy in the Jets’ fold and opt to negotiate a new contract with the team. In Winnipeg he has been given more of a scoring opportunity and has arguably been one of the key cogs in Scheifele’s development—insulating the young centerman defensively.
If Frolik opts to pursue a new contract with the Jets, then the recently signed contract by Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano may be a very interesting comparable for both agent and team to follow.
Here are the comparable numbers between Andrew Cogliano and Michael Frolik:
Usually in these comparable pieces, one has to pick apart certain similarities between players but in this case the numbers are almost identical across the board. Looking at the above numbers, aside from power play ice-time this season, it’s apparent that Frolik and Cogliano are essentially the same player on paper.
That takes us to the financial aspect of the evaluation. If Cogliano signed for four years and $12 million then wouldn’t Frolik demand exactly that?
That certainly seems reasonable.
One final point is that Frolik is a pending RFA, as noted above, while Cogliano—being one year older than Frolik—was a pending UFA for the 2014-15 season. As such, the Jets could hold out for a small discount for next season.
That being said, considering Frolik’s arbitration rights and the fact he would likely earn at least that much, but likely more, on the open market and it probably ends up being most logical to offer him approximately the same amount of money over that term.
Fair market value: Four years, $12.00 million