DETROIT - Martin Frk must make quite an impression come training camp if he wants to make the Detroit Red Wings lineup.
Frk is coming off a Calder Cup championship, during which he played with a confidence earned after responding to being waived twice at the start of last season by producing 27 goals and 50 points in 65 regular-season games with Grand Rapids, adding another five goals and 15 points in 16 playoff games.
“Marty Frk has done a great job of scoring goals,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said at the NHL draft in Chicago on Saturday. “He is a really good shooter. He plays his best hockey when he is confident. Can he continue into the NHL? It just depends. He plays more minutes in the American league than he will play in the NHL when he gets his chance, or if he gets his chance, and the hard part in that is maintaining that confidence to be able to play at the same level when you are not playing as many minutes."
Frk’s biggest asset is a blistering right-handed shot. He led the Griffins in the regular season with 12 power-play goals.
Exhibition season is a great opportunity for coaches to audition players in varying roles because the outcome of the game does not matter – but to Frk’s disadvantage, the Wings, after having a dismal power play through the first half of the season, rebounded over the final 30 games with a power play (24.4%) that ranked sixth in the NHL. And the players who were on those two units all are returning - plus there is a good chance the Wings bring back Thomas Vanek in free agency, in which case he’d join one of the units.
So, what about Frk’s chances?
“Two things,” Blashill said. “For him to be a good NHL player, he is going to have to be a great power-play guy. Because his shot is his weapon. When he is hitting the net, he is a good weapon on the power play. The other side of it for me is, we finished the year, the last 20-some games we were eighth in the league on the power play. I think we have a pretty good formula how to have success on that. I am not looking to switch around that formula very much. We are going to take that formula and we are going to try to hit the ground running with the momentum that it gained at the end of the season. That’s not to say other guys won’t challenge for some of those spots, but I think we’ve got a great road map to have success on it, let's continue once we start the year.”
Blashill pointed to “chemistry and confidence” as the reason why the power play finally clicked.
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