2006 eligible Michael Frolik turns heads at WJC

By Simon Richard





2005 Prospects: Alex Bourret







Born on February 17th 1988, Czech right winger Michael Frolik is the only 1988-born player at the 2005 World
Junior Championship, and one of three 2006 NHL eligibles
along with American Phil Kessel and Finn Jesse
Joenssu
.   

Frolik shines at
the WJC

The 6’0, 176-pound forward didn’t lose any time at the WJC scoring
the first goal for the Czech Republic team in the tournament in the game against Belarus.

"It was good for me to score that first goal but the most important
thing was that we won the game," Frolik told
Hockey’s Future after a team practice in Grand Forks, N.D.  "I’m very happy to be here. The
team is playing well. It is good for my future and it is nice playing against
the best junior players of the world. It is more difficult to play here on these
small rinks, everything is faster.”

Speaking of speed, Frolik demonstrated his
exceptional skating ability while he carried the puck from coast to coast of
the rink before scoring a superb goal against the Switzerland on December 29th.
That goal was a beauty and one of the most exciting since the tournament began,
being shown again and again on television in Canada.

Advice from Jagr

Frolik has played
in North America before, having won the famous
International Quebec City Pee Wee Tournament, an experience he really enjoyed.

Last November, Frolik was one of the best
Czech players in the Under-20 tournament in Sweden.

This season he spends most of his time with the Extraliga
Kladno club in Czech Republic, having played about
20 of the team’s 30 games so far. He is one of the very few who began to
play in the Extraliga at the age of 15.

The young Czech phenom has Martin Havlat as his main role model. But he had a thrill of a lifetime
while Jaromir Jagr, another
of Frolik’s role models, asked Kladno’s coach earlier this season to place Frolik on his line.

"It was great, Jagr supported me,"
commented Frolik with a large smile. "He tried
teaching me some little things like how to keep the puck and how to improve my
skating."

A mature player for his age

"I’ve known him for two years now while he was playing at the
U-18 tournament where most of the kids were 1986-born, " an NHL scout told
HF after the win of the Czechs over the Americans on December 31st.
"Despite the fact that he conceded two years to most of the players at this
event, he played very well," said the scout.

"He had some difficulties tonight but that was the case of all his teammates. That said, he played solidly along the boards
and made the simple plays.

“You know, the best players always choose the most
simple
option when they have two or more. Doing so, they limit the
turnovers. Frolik has that maturity," added the scout with enthusiasm.

In the important Czech-USA game, while Team USA was putting a continuous
pressure on the opponents, the Czech coach placed Frolik
on the ice with less than two minutes remaining in the game.  

"That says a lot on the confidence the coach has on the kid and
also on the kid’s maturity to face the pressure," observed the
scout.

Best attributes

The General Manager of the Under-20 Czech team Petr
Misek told HF in Grand Forks that Frolik’s
best qualities are his skating and stick handling.

"He is smart on the ice and is most of all a good guy,"
commented Misek, adding that his rookie has a good
future ahead of him.

"He is very strong physically for a 16-year-old player. He has good
legs and will continue to develop," commented the NHL scout. "I do
not worry for him.

"With him and Phil Kessel, the 2006 draft
looks pretty interesting," added the scout.

Frolik’s agent is
Allan Walsh, who is also the agent of Rostislav
Olesz
, the Florida 2004 Panthers first choice (7th
overall) and Frolik’s linemate
at the WJC.

"Frolik has an incredible hockey sense,
the type of hockey sense you will see in very few young hockey players,"
stated Walsh in the Ralph Arena this week. “The puck seems to be drawn to
him, this kind of thing you saw with players like Gretzky and Crosby.

"He is very dedicated to hockey, from the first time I have met
him, he said ‘I want to play hockey, I want to be a hockey
player’,” Walsh said.

Though he is only 16, Frolik can count on a
professional training supervision. "We brought trainers from Montreal over to work
with him in the summer,” Walsh explained.

"We have a special training program for him,
he trains very hard in the offseason. He is a very
hard worker.”

According to Walsh, Frolik is also under a
special diet in order to keep developing.

Walsh sees Frolik in the top one or two guys
for 2006. "Nevertheless, I repeat him regularly to keep focusing on hockey,
to keep enjoying himself and to keep loving and whatever happens in the future
happens," concluded Walsh.

The future?

Asked by HF if the CHL could
be an option for 2005-06, Frolik answered,"It
is true that a lot of Czech players choose the CHL, but I will not consider
this option and will stay in the Extraliga."

 

From his play so far at the
WJC, Frolik could in fact be the first overall pick
of the 2006 NHL draft. However, there are still many games to be played and
another draft to get through first. 

 

 

Simon
Richard is the author of La Serie du
siecle, Septembre 1972, a
book about the Summit
Series published in 2002.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of
the editorial staff.