For the Detroit Red Wings, this offseason has been much different than in years past. The team lost its cornerstone defenseman, Nicklas Lidstrom, to retirement and traded shutdown defenseman Brad Stuart to San Jose.
General manager Ken Holland made a huge push to land left wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, but both bolted to play for the Minnesota Wild for 13 seasons and matching $93 million contracts.
Yet, Holland has been quick to act on signing the team’s youth despite missing out on marquee free agents. Speedster Darren Helm signed a four-year extension with the team on June 19. Calle Jarnkrok (2010 draft pick) was signed to a three-year entry-level contract on May 30. And today, the Red Wings have agreed to a three-year entry-level contract with their first 2012 NHL draft pick in Martin Frk (via Mlive.com).
Frk (pronounced ferk) was selected 49th overall in this past June’s NHL draft. He has played two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Halifax Mooseheads. His 2011-2012 season was shortened due to a concussion, but Frk still managed to provide the Mooseheads with 29 points in 34 games.
Before his time in Halifax, Frk had been a member of the Czech Republic's Under-18 World Junior Championship teams in 2010 and 2011. He found success, potting three goals and adding nine assists in those two appearances.
Frk was selected third overall in the 2010 CHL Import Draft after tabulating 28 goals and 30 assists in a strong campaign with HC Karlovy Vary of the Czech U20 Extraliga.
This highly touted prospect has good size (6’0”, 198 pounds) and also showcased a strong offensive game since coming over to North America. He is also not afraid to get physical with his opponents (check out YouTube to see what I mean).
Holland was happy with what he saw in the recent Prospect Development Camp from Frk. In a recent interview conducted on the team’s NHL.com page by Bill Roose, Holland stated, "He came to camp and our guys liked him in Traverse City. He competes hard and has a good shot and he has one year of junior remaining and then he's pro eligible".
Frk will continue to grow his game even more in his third season back in Halifax. This last year of eligibility in the “Q” could mean that Frk will look to create a consistent approach to his game he hopes to carry with him to Grand Rapids in 2013-2014.
He is likely looking to learn more from teammate Nathan MacKinnon, who is projected as a candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. And, when his junior career has come to an end, he will be likely paired with the slick Slovakian superstar, Tomas Jurco, who is in the process of signing his entry-level contract with Detroit.
Frk is the first 2012 NHL draft pick to sign an entry-level contract with the team. It is expected that many more of the team’s selections will ink deals with Detroit before the club's annual Prospects Tournament begins in mid-September in Traverse City, Mich.
This is where Red Wings fans can expect to see the newest Red Wing take the ice among the eight teams in competition at the annual gathering. When Frk does hit the ice in Traverse City, he is hoping to show fans that the organization known for finding late-round gems is still on top of its game.