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Frk on critical assignment in Toledo

Published Monday, December 16, 2013, 10:04 a.m. under 2013-14 RWC Reports
Martin Frk

Martin Frk (Credit: Mark Newman)

There’s no telling how long Martin Frk will be stuck in the East Coast Hockey League — and how he handles it could make or break his development as an NHL prospect.

The 21-year-old rookie pro right-winger is on assignment with the Toledo Walleye, in part because he has plenty to work on and in part because the Detroit Red Wings have had as many as four NHL-caliber forwards taking up spots with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Unable to establish himself in six games with the Griffins early this season — going without a point while skating on the fourth line — Frk was sent to Toledo to find his footing as a pro. Through 14 games with the Walleye, he has five goals and seven assists for 12 points and a minus-9 rating.

“Frk is competing his butt off every chance he gets,” said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer, who has worked closely with Frk over the years through his involvement with the Czech Republic’s world junior team. “He’s competing, he’s got a very good attitude, and he understands what he needs to work on.”

The 6-foot, 193-pound Frk, selected in the second round (49th overall) by the Red Wings in 2012, has good puck skills and isn’t shy of contact, while his shot may be the hardest in Detroit’s system. He piled up gaudy statistics last season — 53 goals among 126 points in 77 total games — en route to winning a QMJHL title and a Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads.

While all of that has grabbed a few headlines and the attention of fans, Frk accumulated many of his junior points on a high-octane power-play unit featuring Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon and Tampa Bay Lightning second overall pick Jonathan Drouin. And because the trio usually had control of the puck, the defensive side of the game often took care of itself.

As a pro, Frk needs to quickly learn the work it takes to score and the effort required to be the type of well-rounded, two-way player the Red Wings demand him to be.

“He needs to learn how to eliminate the drive-bys on the back check, how to stop on all the pucks, fight for loose pucks and have a second effort in the offensive zone, and even though on the forecheck when the defenseman gains a little bit of separation carrying the puck, he needs to go after him,” Fischer said. “Those great habits that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have automated, they haven’t come naturally to him, but he’s learning good things in Toledo.”

Skating and discipline are two other areas Frk needs to continue to work on.

The best thing about being in Toledo is opportunity. The Griffins are such a deep and powerful squad, Frk probably won’t get more than a fourth-line sniff this season barring a series of trades or a rash of injuries. With the Walleye, he has a top-line role and power play time.

“He’s in as good of a position and role to succeed as anybody on the team,” Fischer said.

NOTES: Winger Anthony Mantha (Val-d’Or, QMJHL) is getting plenty of ink as Canada prepares for the IIHF world junior championship starting Boxing Day. He’s presently skating on the second line with Charles Hudon and Bo Horvat, but expect him to join forces with Jonathan Drouin when Drouin returns from a concussion … For those keeping track, Mantha left for world junior camp with a 19-point lead over teammate Louick Marcotte for the QMJHL scoring title. Mantha, Marcotte, and another Foreurs forward, Guillaume Gelinas, are 1-2-3 in league scoring … Defenseman Mitchell Wheaton (Kelowna, WHL) returned from injury this week and scored his first goal of the season … Winger Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph, OHL) has what it takes to play in the NHL one day, according to his coach, Scott Walker. “He’s a high-energy guy,” Walker told the Toronto Star. “In the NHL, he’s one of those guys that you love to play with. He grinds it out, but he’s got more skill than guys give him credit for. He plays the game the right way and can do a lot of different things for us. He can penalty kill. He can go in front and handle the puck on the power play. But he also can play a hard, physical game against other players.” … Goaltender Petr Mrazek and winger Tomas Jurco are both up with Detroit. Mrazek was the third star in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay, stopping 23 of 25 shots. Jurco made his NHL debut and saw 16:45 of ice time, including 1:27 on the power play, while skating with Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson … On Jurco, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News: “Jurco was good. He’s big, fast and has some skill. I’d like him to (go to) the net but he did a lot of good things, got Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson) and Pav (Pavel Datsyuk) the puck. He’s a fairly high-end player.” … Goaltender Thomas McCollum (Grand Rapids, AHL) has picked up his game and will get more starts for the Griffins due to Mrazek’s recall. The Red Wings retain McCollum’s rights as a restricted free agent although they don’t have him signed to a contract. “Tommy had been playing really good even when he wasn’t getting many starts because Petr had been playing so good,” Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill told “Now it really opens up the door for him to do a great job.”

Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.


Almquist, Adam Grand Rapids AHL PRO 23 0 16 16 18 +5 44
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 10 4 14 29 +13 57
Jurco, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 11 16 27 12 +12 76
Marchenko, Alexey Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 2 12 14 4 +16 17
Sheahan, Riley Grand Rapids AHL PRO 23 6 8 14 10 +4 36
Sproul, Ryan Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 6 12 18 12 +16 65
Glendening, Luke Grand Rapids AHL PRO 17 3 7 10 16 +8 24
Jarnkrok, Calle Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 8 5 13 8 +13 42
Pulkkinen, Teemu Grand Rapids AHL PRO 26 10 12 22 14 +14 57
Frk, Martin Grand Rapids AHL PRO 6 0 0 0 6 -3 3
Jensen, Nick Grand Rapids AHL PRO 4 0 0 0 0 +2 0
Tvrdon, Marek Grand Rapids AHL PRO 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids AHL PRO 20 5 6 11 15 +4 56
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids AHL PRO 1 0 0 0 5 0 1
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids AHL PRO 7 0 0 0 0 +3 4
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids AHL PRO 20 3 3 6 10 +3 20
Ouellet, Xavier Grand Rapids AHL PRO 24 1 5 6 6 +11 28
Nedomlel, Richard Grand Rapids AHL PRO 3 0 0 0 2 -2 1
Parkes, Trevor Toledo ECHL PRO 21 13 11 24 12 -1 81
Frk, Martin Toledo ECHL PRO 14 5 7 12 10 -9 24
Nicastro, Max Toledo ECHL PRO 20 0 5 5 12 -6 42
Nedomlel, Richard Toledo ECHL PRO 9 2 1 3 45 -3 8
Tvrdon, Marek Toledo ECHL PRO 16 8 3 11 6 -7 42
Aubry, Louis-Marc Toledo ECHL PRO 9 3 2 5 6 -3 36
Jensen, Nick Toledo ECHL PRO 3 0 0 0 0 -2 4
Mantha, Anthony Val-d’Or QMJHL CHL 32 35 38 73 36 +17 180
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville QMJHL CHL 27 10 4 14 43 -5 60
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie OHL CHL 31 15 26 41 30 +10
Nastasiuk, Zach Owen Sound OHL CHL 34 13 17 30 16 -4
Bertuzzi, Tyler Guelph OHL CHL 29 10 25 35 49 +9
McNulty, Marc Prince George WHL CHL 32 6 10 16 65 +5
Wheaton, Mitchell Kelowna WHL CHL 17 1 8 9 14 +3
Janmark, Mattias AIK SEL EUR 29 16 8 24 48 -4 75
Backman, Mattias Linkoping SEL EUR 33 4 8 12 8 +19 39
Melen, Hampus Tingsryds SWE-J20 EUR-JR 11 0 5 5 14 -6 17
Bodin, Rasmus Linkoping SWE-J20 EUR-JR 14 0 2 2 2 -3 5
De Haas, James Clarkson ECAC NCAA 16 2 4 6 10 -1 21
Marshall, Ben Minnesota BIG-10 NCAA 15 2 3 5 27 +4 31
McKee, Mike W. Michigan BIG-10 NCAA 10 0 0 0 46 0 1
Pope, David W. Kelowna USHL/JR-A JR-A 19 8 7 15 6


Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 22 11 9 2 0 3.64 .900
Coreau, Jared Grand Rapids AHL 1 0 1 0 0 3.82 .846
Mrazek, Petr Grand Rapids AHL 13 10 2 1 1 2.09 .927
Coreau, Jared Toledo ECHL 9 1 5 3 0 4.42 .865
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 14 9 3 0 1 2.22 .923
  1. Rick says:

    Wings have done well both in drafting and development…but not everyone makes it. Playing in the ECHL lowers your chances even more of getting to the NHL. Frk doesnt skate well ( hard to teach and has some defensive deficiencies ( can teach ) so no one should give up on a very talented player. But the young Wings are arriving in waves…Nyquist and Jurco this year…followed possibly by Sproul, Sheahan and Oulette next year. In two years, Jarnkrok and possibly Mantha. Future is bright. I just hope there is some impact here to take the torch in 2 or 3 years from Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

  2. Patrick W. says:

    Since McCollum was qualified as an RFA and not signed, doesn’t that make him an UFA after this season? He’s definitely played well enough so far to get anther look but with Mrazek, Paterson, and Coreau signed for next year it may be somewhere else. The Wings could have as many as 13 players coming off the 50 man next year (all UFA’s plus RFA’s they might non-tender) so they will have space for him on an NHL deal if they want.

    If the Wings think he’s legit this year, they could decide to have him backup Howard and keep Mrazek in GR to get big minutes. Unlikely I know, but that way you get too keep all your young goaltending depth.

    Does anyone know if any Wings have made the Show after playing significant time in the ECHL?

  3. YVR says:

    @partickw….can’t recall any Wings but Alex Burrows of the Canucks played four yrs in the ECHL and 2 yrs in the AHL. He has become quite a good NHL’er.

  4. tom rady says:

    I don’t agree that playing in the ECHL lowers your chances of being in the NHL. It is a younger league for guys out of junior or college who are not as physically developed or mature. The American League has more older players in their late 20’s and early 30’s. A lot of vets who have NHL experience. So the guys are stronger and more mature.

    Detroit has seven or eight players at Toledo. Part of it is the reason listed above. Another reason is the Detroit has too many players at Grand Rapids and does not want young guys to sit. They are doing this with Tvrdon and Nedomiel too. They need to play not sit even if it is a lower league. Louis Marc Aubry is a big kid in his third year who has been hurt a lot his first two years. He is a big kid who needs to get stronger and get more experience.

    The wings understand that guys develop at different rates and consider that when they make asignments. They want kids to be challenged but not overwhelmed.

  5. Rick says:

    @ Tom….yes, if anyone can emerge from the ECHL , it could be Frk. Players like Aubrey and Tverdon though face tough odds of ever making it.

  6. tom rady says:

    Not sure of that. Maybe it just means they will take longer to develop. I think I read that Tvrdon was a big propsect but had been mostly hurt the last two years. I think part of it for him is just getting used to playing regularly again. Nedomiel is a huge kid I saw in an exhib game who needs to work on his skating and puck skills. You could be right but only time will tell for all of them.

    I think the wings like to give them that time to develop as long as they are working hard and showing progress.

  7. Daryl says:

    I wouldn’t be too concerned about our guys playing in the ECHL. I think it’s more an indictment on the talent we have in the pipeline. Guys like Frk and Tvrdon need some top 9 minutes to really be able to develop, so who’s job are they going to take away right now to get consistent playing time. Guys like Sheahan, Ferraro, Glendening, and Callahan are in their 2nd/3rd years. Jarnkrok and Pulkkinen are used to playing against men. Then you have the castoffs of Emmerton, Eaves, and Tootoo. That’s nine right there without mentioning our leadership group. Frk’s been playing alongside NHL talent the last couple years against kids so he needs to learn to compete without that crutch, and Tvrdon has missed 2 of the last 3 years to injuries. Just give them time. With all the injuries going on right now, we’ll probably see them back in the AHL pretty soon.

    Oh and to list some names of players who got their start in the ECHL – Mark Streit, Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley, Dan Girardi, Alex Burrows, Ruslan Fedotenko, Cory Conacher, Andrew Brunette, Francois Beauchemin, Derek Boogaard, Joe Corvo, and Luke Glendening. Not exactly the best list I know, but it shows it does happen.

  8. Scout says:

    A lot of goalies have played in the “E” as well…
    Jonathan Quick being the most well known.

  9. Craig says:

    Frk will be with griffins full time next season when some are with the wings full time or are traded

  10. Patrick W. says:

    Frk was recalled by the Griffins today. Hopefully he can stick.

  11. tom rady says:

    Both he and Aubry will probably go back to toledo when some players go from the wings to GR. They were not dominating the ECHL but playing better. They still have things to work on. I don’t want them with the Griffs unless they are playing regularly. Sitting will do them no good. They need to play.

  12. ScottD says:

    Athanasiou had a five point night. 4 goals and an assist. Hope he brings some good production next year to Grand Rapids.

  13. YVR says:

    AA is Helm with hands….going to be a good one I think. Quick Launch

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