A couple of flashy linemates have invigorated Martin Frk and have him playing the best hockey of his young career.
The 19-year-old right-winger had the game of his life on Friday as the QMJHL playoffs opened, recording an astonishing five goals and three assists in the Halifax Mooseheads’ 11-1 blowout of the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Say what you want about the QMJHL’s owner-friendly 16-of-18-teams-get-into-the-playoffs gimmick that left the nationally-top-ranked Mooseheads 73-point favorites coming into the series — an eight-point game hadn’t occurred in the QMJHL post-season since Daniel Briere did it in 1995-96 and it even matched Mario Lemieux’s single-game best. Pierre Rioux holds the all-time playoff recored of 10 set in 1982.
If Frk’s blowup wasn’t a sign that his 2011-12 concussion woes are completely behind him, his numbers since returning from the IIHF world junior championship are more convincing: in his past 31 games, Frk has 28 goals and 27 assists for 55 points.
A big part of that is playing with two top-five draft prospects, the electrifyingly fast Nathan MacKinnon and the slick-mitted Jonathan Drouin. Getting bumped up to the top line has no doubt energized Frk after a slow start on the team’s second line.
Although the Red Wings’ second-round pick (49th overall) last June does not carry the unit with MacKinnon and Drouin, his NHL-calibre shot and offensive instincts have made him a perfect complement to them.
“That first line is phenomenal, to (combine for) 18 points in (Friday’s game) game, you have to be impressed with that,” Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon told Metro News after attending the game to scout MacKinnon and Drouin. “When they have it on a string and they’re playing at their optimum potential it’s a real treat to see; there aren’t many lines like that. They have that special chemistry and are so willing to play for each other.”
Frk, who is expected to vie for a spot with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins next season, has to improve his skating in a big way to be an effective pro, let alone an NHL prospect, and will need to continue to mature with regard to playing a complete game and being disciplined — as he’s shown signs of doing with an active eight-game no-minor-penalty streak, a career-best.
Frk is in the first year of a three-year entry-level contract in which he is earning a $92,500 signing bonus in addition to $10,500 in junior pay from the Red Wings. His contract will slide to begin in 2013-14, keeping him under contract through 2016-2017.
NOTES: Center Calle Jarnkrok has joined the Grand Rapids Griffins for a late-season stint. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the AHL, but one thing’s for sure, he’ll give their roster a boost with so many key players up in the NHL … Defenseman Adam Almquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) recorded his first career hat trick last week, a nice accomplishment for the offensive-minded defensemen … The Red Wings are in on the Danny Dekeyser sweepstakes, a defenseman Red Line Report calls him “the most NHL-ready prospect among the college free-agent collection,” lauding the 6-foot-3, 193-pounder’s mobility, puck-moving, physicality, nasty edge, penalty killing and shot-blocking … Goaltender Jake Paterson (Saginaw, OHL) did anything and everything to keep his team in it in a first-round playoff matchup against London on March 24, turning in a 67-save, second-star showing in a 3-2 loss where the Spirit were out-shot 70-43. London leads the series 3-0 … Defenseman Mattias Backman (Linkoping, SEL) face Skelleftea in the SEL semifinals. Backman continues to impress with four points in five first-round games along with a plus-6 … Defenseman Alexey Marchenko (CSKA Moscow, KHL) was scoreless in seven playoff games and saw his ice time cut to about six minutes per game … Defensemen Nick Jensen (St. Cloud State, WCHA) and Ben Marshall (Minnesota, WCHA) are both part of NCAA hockey’s Sweet 16 with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh April 11-13. Minnesota is ranked second or tied for first with Quinnipiac in three major rankings, while St. Cloud State’s status ranges from ninth to 11th to 15th. Both defensemen have had good seasons.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||58||23||37||60||34||+10||169|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||61||19||19||38||44||+3||125|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||36||10||17||27||55||+1||84|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||34||3||6||9||35||+6||39|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||36||2||4||6||23||+4||38|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||50||22||24||46||48||+14||167|
|Almquist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||57||9||18||27||30||+9||77|
|Nicastro, Max||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||23||1||2||3||10||0||17|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||33||3||6||9||41||+2||26|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||62||16||19||35||29||+12||95|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||55||4||7||11||40||+1||69|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||59||11||9||20||84||0||114|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||62||10||11||21||18||+1||95|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||22||1||4||5||23||-2||15|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||21||3||3||6||2||+1||24|
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||AHL||AHL||1||0||0||0||0||-1||0|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||WCHA||NCAA||29||4||26||30||12||+19||68|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||BCHL||USHL/JR-A||53||5||19||24||19||–||–|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||CHL||50||20||46||66||45||0||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||WHL||CHL||72||7||21||28||105||-13||–|
|Marchenko, Alexey||CSKA Moscow||KHL||EUR||44||4||5||9||6||-2||46|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||26||15||10||1||2||2.80||.899|
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||3||0||0||4.32||.847|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||35||21||11||2||1||2.23||.916|
SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT
|Marchenko, Alexey||CSKA Moscow||KHL||EUR||7||0||0||0||0||-1||5|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||CHL||3||0||3||3||0||-3||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||WHL||CHL||4||0||0||0||2||-1||–|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||BCHL||USHL/JR-A||4||2||2||4||0||–||–|
GOALIES: PLAYOFF REPORT