Monday, 27 January 2020

Old-School Skills Competition

I have been pretty open in past articles about my traditionalist views when it comes to hockey. Yes, I want to see progressive changes in some aspects, but there are certain pieces of the game that should rightfully remain unchanged for eternity. One of those things, in my view, is the Skills Competition at the All-Star Game. Yes, I know that the accuracy shooting, the fastest skater, and the hardest shot are still there, but I loved the puck control relay and I loved seeing the goalies move laterally in the rapid fire event. Those are skills that players need in today's game, so seeing the AHL set up the old-school Skills Competition with these events on Sunday made me smile!

Here are the highlights from the AHL Skills Competition! Note the blast by Martin Frk of the Ontario Reign. I'll have more on Frk below the video.
I was a big Martin Frk fan when he was with the Grand Rapids Griffins. I watched him play against the Moose often, and it was always puzzling to me how a guy with so much talent seemingly couldn't crack an NHL roster. He was claimed by Carolina off waivers after Detroit tried to send him down in October of 2016, and he was back in the Detroit organization one month later when Carolina waived him and he was claimed by the Red Wings. He signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings this past summer, and I was quietly screaming that the local NHL team should have been looking at him as an option to play in the bottom-six where the Jets had holes on their roster.

You might be asking why the Jets would want him. Comparatively to a player like Gabriel Bourque, there isn't a lot that stands out when looking exclusively as their stats. Both have had comparable points-per-game stats in the NHL, and Frk's AHL career seems to be slightly better. That said, Bourque is a more physical player than Frk, but Frk certainly isn't afraid to go into a corner and win a puck battle.

When you look at Frk's skating and his ability to score goals, however, that's where he stands out compared to players like Bourque and Logan Shaw. Frk is a good skater with better speed than both Bourque and Shaw when he turns it on, and his shooting ability, as shown above, is pretty good. He has 20 goals with Ontario this season and is on pace to smash his AHL high of 27 goals set with Grand Rapids. Frk has become better defensively as he's matured as well, and he likely would be an above-average player with the Jets when compared to Bourque and Shaw this season.

Congratulations to Martin Frk on his record-setting blast. Here's hoping the Jets can entice solid AHL talent like Frk to come to Winnipeg this off-season to help bolster their rosters both at the NHL level and the AHL level.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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