The NHL season is finally over, and with the end upon us, the NHL starts the beginning of the offseason. The usual trade rumors, free agent signings and major releases are always big news, but I like to first start with predicting who I believe is going to be the unforeseen impact player for the Chicago Blackhawks.
When the Blackhawks first acquired Michael Frolik from the Florida Panthers, there was some buzz around the new face in Chicago, and for good reason. Even though Frolik was having his worst season points-wise, he still has the speed, skating ability and potential to become a star player in the NHL.
Frolik brought all those skills to Chicago. Even though he only garnered nine points in 28 games with the 'Hawks, Frolik's biggest contribution to the team was his playoff performance. In seven games, Frolik scored two goals, dished off three assists and managed a plus/minus rating of plus-three. Those are very good numbers for a youngster in his first ever playoff series.
The first thing you notice about Frolik is his best attribute: his skating ability.
Frolik is one of the best, if not the best, skaters on the 'Hawks team. With his skating ability comes speed. Being fast is a positive in any sport, but being fast does not mean you have control. Frolik can not only skate fast but can also control himself while skating fast. It's a skill that can't be overlooked, especially in the NHL.
Blackhawk fans didn't see much of it last season, but Frolik can score goals. In his two previous seasons with the Florida Panthers, Frolik scored 21 goals each year. One season of lesser production (11 goals) does not and should not mean that Frolik can't produce 20 goals a season. In fact, I believe, with his age and the fact that he is maturing and becoming a better player, we will see increasing offensive outputs from Frolik in the coming years.
The outlook going into this offseason and the next regular season isn't as bleak as it was last year. The Blackhawks have some very good prospects in Nick Leddy and Jeremy Morin that the organization (and I) hopes can become a contributing factor to the team in the very near future.
True, some tough decisions are going to have to be made because of the salary cap, but it's not going to leave the 'Hawks in the position they found themselves in September of last year. With new faces like Michael Frolik, Chris Campoli and Nick Leddy, the 'Hawks are primed to once again be a threat in the NHL.