Sometimes, reinforcements come from unexpected places. After signing Ethen Frank to an AHL contract last spring, the Washington Capitals have now inked the undrafted forward to a one-year, two-way NHL contract for the 2023-24 season. The deal will carry an NHL salary of $775K, and an AHL salary of $205K.
Frank, 25, has taken the long route to get to this point but just never stopped improving. A five-year career at Western Michigan University culminated in an outstanding 2021-22 season where Frank led the nation in goals with 26 through 38 games.
Most attributed that to simply playing competition much younger than him, but the right-shot forward has proved his doubters wrong this year, acclimating to the AHL without issue. Through 45 games with the Hershey Bears, Frank has 24 goals to lead the team, to go along with the 41 points that put him third on the squad.
At this point, after succeeding at every lower level, the Capitals might as well give him a real tryout next training camp. Either he can continue to produce at the highest level, and becomes a great undrafted story, or he struggles to adapt to the speed of the NHL and doesn’t factor into their future plans.
A one-year deal poses very little risk to the club, and at the very least secures him as a featured contributor for the Bears again next year.