It hasn’t been a great last few NHL seasons for Michael Frolik. He has gone from being a valuable middle-six winger to more of a depth role and it appears teams overseas have taken notice in the hopes of luring him across the pond. Sport-Express in Russia reports that Avangard Omsk of the KHL has offered him a one-year contract while iSport’s Pavel Barta adds that Frolik’s camp has been in talks with Lausanne of the Swiss NLA about a deal as well.
Frolik wrapped up his five-year, $21.5MM deal this season on a quiet note. He started off the season in Calgary where he had a very limited role and Buffalo decided to take a chance on him midseason, flipping the Flames a fourth-round pick for his services. The change of scenery didn’t do him much good though as he only managed a single goal (an empty-netter) plus three assists in 19 games with the Sabres which was actually a small step back from the five goals and five helpers he had in 38 contests with Calgary. Suffice it to say, he’s going to be looking at a significant pay cut one way or the other as he hits the UFA market.
While Frolik is looking at his options overseas, his European agent Josef Machala told Barta that Frolik’s preference is to remain in the NHL.
That may wind up complicating things for him. While the final date for the start of free agency hasn’t been set yet, the NHL’s critical dates calendar pegs it to be around the middle of October; all contracts have been extended through the end of that month which gives them a bit of extra wiggle room. That’s the earliest that the 32-year-old will be allowed to talk to other NHL teams even with Buffalo not being part of the NHL’s return to wrap up this season.
By then, most international leagues (with the exception of Germany’s DEL) will be underway and while it’s not impossible to join a team midseason, it becomes trickier. By then, most teams will have filled up their higher-priced import slots which will limit the options for him if he waits to see if any NHL opportunities arise first. Those leagues won’t be getting underway until September so there’s still time for Frolik to assess his European options but if he turns down those options, there’s no guarantee they’ll still be around if opportunities in the NHL don’t present themselves which means he’ll have a big decision to make in the coming weeks.