Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Whatever Happened to Alexander Frolov?

The Kings drafted Alexander Frolov 20th overall in the 2000 draft. He spent 7 seasons in a Kings uniform, scoring 168 goals and 213 assists in 536 games. He led the Kings in goals his second season in the league, 2003-04, with 24 (two more than Luc Robitaille), 2006-07 with a career-high 35, and again in 2008-09 with 32, and was second on the team in scoring four times (2003-04, 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09).

While the Kings pursued Ilya Kovalchuk in the free agency period of 2010, Alex slipped away to the Rangers where he only played half a season, putting up only 16 points before succumbing to injury.

After that, Alex left the NHL for his native Russia where he has spent the last two seasons with Avangard Omsk. So how has he been doing in the KHL? Find out after the break…

In 2011-12, coming off a torn right ACL, Frolov did not have a great first season in the KHL, scoring 12 goals and 12 assists in 54 games. His team, the Avangard (Omsk is the Siberian city in which they are based), on the other hand, had a great season. They won their division in the regular season and like his former Kings teammates he found himself skating in the championship series.

Sadly for Fro, Omsk fell in the Gagarin Cup finals to Dynamo Moscow in 7 games.

Kings fans will remember how Fro's one-time linemate in Los Angeles, Michal Handzus, needed a year to recover from his torn ACL before becoming a force in the lineup once again. Well, the same thing seems to have happened to our old friend Frolov this year. In the 2012-13 season, Alex finished 17th in the KHL in scoring at nearly a point-a-game pace with 13 goals and 28 assists for 41 points in 47 games, tied for the team scoring lead (but in fewer games). In fact, he finished one point ahead of Alex Ovechkin in KHL scoring!

Unfortunately for Frolov, his personal rejuvenation did not coincide with team success this year. Avangard won their division again, but was upset in 5 games by Chelyabinsk in the opening round of the playoffs.

What does the future hold for the guy they call "Sasha"? He has one more season left on his contract with Omsk, but could he return to the NHL? How about the Kings?

I would still love to see Fro on the Kings' third line. He plays a style of puck possession, cycling hockey that I think Daryl Sutter would love to coach, but I don't think Lombardi would ever consider bringing him back. At the same time, I'm sure there are other NHL teams who would be willing to give him a shot if he wanted to return. He would probably look better than most guys playing on the left side of Crosby or Malkin in Pittsburgh. And if Datsyuk sticks around in Detroit, I always thought he and Frolov would make a great duo, stealing pucks and working magic in the offensive zone. The truth is, pretty much any team would be doing all right if they picked him up, but I'm not sure Fro wants to return to the NHL. Hopefully we'll get to see him over here again before he hangs up his skates, but if not, it sure was fun when he was a King and I wish him a continued resurgence overseas!

What do you remember about Frolov's time in L.A. or what do you think the future holds for him? Comment away!

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