Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon felt his team needed a change. Constantly out-hit and struggling to score goals, the Cats won only two of their last 10 games forcing a move.
In only the first year of his tenure with the team, Tallon needs to establish who “his players” are. Coming from the Western Conference, Tallon wanted to build an honest team, capable of outworking and out-hitting the competition.
Clearly, the talented Michael Frolik did not fit that mold, neither did prospect Alexander Salak– who he earlier sent to the SEL in order to get more playing time for his talented goalie and the prospects behind him on the depth chart.
Drafted 10th overall back in 2006, Frolik can play both center and wing. However, after back-to-back 21-goal campaigns, the 22-year-old projects for only 12 goals this year. Despite being a young player with size, Frolik did not use his 6’1″ frame to give himself a physical advantage which likely helped Tallon make his decision.
Earlier in his career and in his draft year, Frolik drew comparisons to Jaromir Jagr. While not as tall or nearly as strong he displayed an excellent amount of skill, seamlessly jumping from the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL to the NHL.
Now with the defending Cup champions, Frolik’s value should skyrocket.
Banished to the fourth line as of late, he should get an opportunity to play with the Blackhawks’ more skilled players as players. Chicago has been in need of more talent after losing Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg amongst others this offseason and Frolik could bring yet another dimension to the team. Even playing on a third line with Dave Bolland should be an upgrade to his current linemates.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Panthers got bigger.
In search for some sandpaper, the Panthers acquired former Tallon pick Jack Skille, first-round bust Hugh Jessiman and 19-year-old prospect David Pacan. All three players bring size to Florida with Skille standing at 6’1″, Jessiman at 6’6″ and Pacan at 6’3″.
While Frolik may have been the same size as Skille, he did not bring the physical edge desired. Skille comes to Florida with 95 hits, which now leads the Panthers by 19 (David Booth leads the team with 76). With head coach Pete DeBoer known to work his players hard, it now appears that Tallon is building that identity.
The wild card in this trade might actually be Salak, who sits amongst the League leaders in the SEL. At 24-years-old, the Czech netminder might translate well to the NHL, similarly to Antti Niemi last year. However with Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Plante and Marc Cheverie all in the system, the Panthers could afford to trade from their strength.